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keeping the faith

keeping the faith

urban VIII

Dr Rowan Williams to target pro-gay bishops

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

Last Updated: 1:40am GMT 19/11/2007


The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to target individual bishops whose pro-gay policies threaten to derail his efforts to avert schism, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

In a high-risk strategy, Dr Rowan Williams may even snub them by withdrawing their invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference.

He has told friends he will challenge any bishop he believes is coming to the conference with an agenda “very much at odds” with his attempts to maintain unity in the worldwide Church.

Maintaining moral integrity:  monarch faith role ‘should stay’

Prince Charles should not become defender of all faiths rather than just Christianity when he becomes King, the Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted.

Dr. Rowan Williams also said his coronation should be a Christian rather than a multi-faith service.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Telegraph he described Britain as a “broken society” and said urgent action was needed by the government.

The archbishop forthrightly rejected any change for Prince Charles in the function adopted by his ancestor Henry VIII as defender of the Christian faith when he becomes titular head of the Church of England.

The Prince of Wales first expressed a wish to become “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith” in an interview in 1994.  Dr Williams rejected any change in the King’s function.  ….Dr Williams also said the coronation would be a service of Holy Communion during which the monarch would be anointed.

He added: “The acts of worship that we perform have their integrity. I don’t want to see amateurish messing around compromising what’s going on.”

Dr Williams said the Church of England would take a more high profile stand on moral issues than it had done in the past few years.  Describing Britain as a “broken society” he said action was needed by the government and the Church to restore a sense of moral integrity.



From Bohemian Rhapsody:

Is this the real life’
Is this just fantasy’
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.
Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go, Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me.
…Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.
Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine, body’s aching all the time.
Goodbye, ev’rybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.
Mama, ooh, I don’t want to die,
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.
I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango.
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very fright’ning me.
(Galileo.) Galileo. (Galileo.) Galileo, Galileo figaro


John Paul Apologizes

“As the second millennium of Christianity draws to a close,” John Paul wrote, “the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when they . . . indulged in ways of thinking and acting that were truly forms of counterwitness and scandal.”

He has practiced what he preached. In 1998, one scholar counted 94 occasions on which John Paul had confessed the sins and failings of Christians, in matters ranging from the treatment of women to the treatment of Galileo. Since then, he has pushed the total well into triple digits.

The pope’s plea for forgiveness does not, needless to say, undo the crimes committed in the name of the church. The Jews and Muslims slaughtered during the Crusades, the innocents burned at the stake during the Inquisition, the massacre of French Protestants on St. Bartholomew’s Day and in the Wars of Religion, the forced conversion of non-Christians — the agony of the victims is not lessened retroactively by John Paul’s prayers. Neither is the guilt of their tormentors. “What’s done is done,” Lance Morrow writes at “The ashes of heretics burned centuries ago are cold indeed.”

Brief History of Galileo and the Roman Church:

The Charge Against Galileo

You, Galileo, in 1615 were accused before this Holy Office for:

  • believing that the sun is the centre around which the Earth revolves, and the Earth itself rotates daily
  • having followers to whom you claim these beliefs are true
  • contradicting the teachings of the Bible by your beliefs
  • dismissing biblical objections to your beliefs with false and foolish interpretations of the Bible.

Galileo’s Heresy

It is the desire of this Holy Tribunal to proceed against the following propositions that Galileo holds, since these are threatening the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church:

  • The proposition that the sun is the centre of the solar system and does not move is absurd, false and heretical because it is against Holy Scripture.
  • The proposition that the Earth is not the centre of the solar system and it moves and rotates on a daily basis is equally absurd and false, as well as being theologically wrong. ,

The Arguments Brought Against Galileo by the Church

  • We know from scholars and common sense that the Earth is fixed and that the sun and stars move.
  • Galileo openly contradicts Holy Scripture. Psalm 92 says, “For he hath established the world which shall not be moved;” and Ecclesiastes 1 says, “but the Earth standeth forever.”
  • Scripture clearly describes the motion of the sun. Ecclesiastes 1 says, “The sun rises and sets, and hurries around to rise again.”
  • Joshua 10 recounts a miracle in which Joshua told the sun to stop: “‘Move not, O Sun, toward Babylon; nor thou, O Moon, toward the Valley of Ajalonm.’ So the Sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hastened not to go down for the space of one day.”
  • Galileo says that water exists on the moon and the planets, but this cannot be. As Aristotle and other great scholars argued, these bodies never change throughout time. Galileo also describes mountains on the moons and other planets, and so speaks very negatively of the homes of angels and lessens our hope regarding heaven.
  • If, as Galileo believes, the four elements (air, earth, fire and water) that form Earth exist in the stars, then there must be human life there. But the Holy Scripture speaks of only one world and one created human species, so this belief is against Holy Scripture. Hence, Galileo may be reviving the heresy that Christ had to die again for the people who inhabit the stars.
  • Galileo’s ideas are scandalous and harmful. All schools teach a theory of heaven and Earth that conforms to the great scholars of history and the Bible. Any other theory that is taught seeks to destroy this philosophy and this theology.
  • Holy Scripture teaches us to “seek nothing higher, nor attempt to know more than it is necessary to know.” It also teaches that “the diligent searcher of majesty is overcome by vain-glory (pride).” Galileo ignores this advice and studies the universe so that he can make theories as he pleases. The Roman Philosopher Cato rightly taught us to “leave secret things to God, and to permit Heaven to inquire concerning them; for he who is mortal should concern himself with mortal things.”

The First Charge Against Galileo

This is a summary of an original document in which the Church explains its first judgement against Galileo. This took place in 1616.

    Since the church wanted to be lenient with you, we decided to let you go if you would promise to give up your beliefs, and to stop teaching or defending them. When you talk about these ideas, you may only speak of them as being hypotheses, not facts. Since you have promised to do so, you have been dismissed.To prevent these evil beliefs from damaging the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, we have issued a decree banning all of the books that teach these beliefs. We have also declared these beliefs to be false and completely contrary to Scripture.

Galileo Publishes his Discoveries

In 1632, sixteen years after the first judgement was passed against him, Galileo published a book defending his view that the sun was the centre of the solar system, and that the Earth both revolved around the sun and rotated on its axis.

The book, entitled Dialogue on the Two Greatest Systems in the World, was a discussion between two imaginary men. One man defended the Ptolemaic system that the Church believed to be true and the other defended Galileo’s view. However, the man who defended the Ptolemaic system was portrayed as a simple fool and his arguments were easily destroyed by the man who believed Galileo’s view.

Throughout Europe, Galileo’s book was received with great excitement. Many saw it as the most important book ever printed.

In order to get the book published, Galileo needed the permission of the Roman Catholic Church. He was able to get this permission. However, when certain church leaders saw the book they were extremely upset. They believed that the fool who defended the Ptolemaic system represented the church.

Galileo Defends his Publication: The Church Should Not Have Final Authority in Science

In a letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, Galileo explained why he published his book. This is a summary of that letter:

    The Church believes that the Bible is free of error. Since one can read in the Bible that the sun moves and the Earth stands still, then anyone who disagrees with this is saying that the Bible has errors.I do believe that the Bible has no untruths as long as its true meaning is understood. But we must remember that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were written for ordinary, uneducated people. They describe physical events so that all can understand them. God did not intend that the Bible should give scientifically accurate explanations of ordinary physical events.Given this, it seems that when physical problems are discussed, we should not expect to find answers about them in Scripture. Rather, answers should be found on the basis of scientific demonstrations. This does not in any way take away from the value of the Scripture. But Scripture exists to inform people about the truth of God. This truth cannot be discovered through science.The Bible is concerned with the salvation of people. Since there is no instruction on scientific matters in the Bible, these issues are obviously not important for salvation: “The intention of the (Scriptures) is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.” Therefore, how can the Church say that in order to be a Christian you have to believe that the Ptolemaic system is correct and that my ideas are wrong?In order to eliminate the Copernican view of the universe (Earth revolves around sun), it would be necessary to ban the whole science of astronomy. Furthermore, it would be necessary to tell men not to look at the sky and not to see what they see, and not to understand what they know. For there is much evidence that cannot be explained by the Ptolemaic system but which supports the Copernican system, and the amount of evidence is growing daily. But to do this now, after the Copernican view has been tolerated for many years, would be contrary to the truth.

The Church’s Reaction to the Publication of Galileo’s Book

The Church was very angry because Galileo had broken the promise he made in 1616 not to believe or teach the Copernican theory. A special church commission reported that, in the book, Galileo stated as an absolute truth the movement of the Earth, instead of as a hypothesis. The Church also believed that Galileo had deceived them into allowing the publication of the book.

The Church’s Justification of its Position

  • The Church believed that everything must be interpreted exactly as the Bible says it is.
  • In the Bible, Moses says that God created the universe in one day, and the rest of the Earth in five days. Since Galileo claimed that the Earth was just a speck in many universes, it does not seem reasonable that God would have spent so much time on a speck and so little time creating the rest of the universe. Where were heaven and hell located in all of these universes?
  • God could not look down from heaven onto his people on Earth if the Earth was travelling at such a great speed around the sun.
  • Moses said that God planted the sun, moon and stars in the sky and that the sky was heaven.
  • God lives in heaven, since the Bible says that God came down from heaven and Jesus went up into heaven. If Galileo is correct, how could God keep track of his people with the Earth in orbit?

Why was the Church so Upset with Galileo?

The Roman Catholic Church was worried that Galileo’s theories would cause people to doubt the church’s position on the truthfulness of the Bible. If this was allowed to happen:

  • people would begin to question the authority of the church
  • many would begin to interpret the Bible in their own way
  • many would turn away from the church.

In order to maintain its authority, the church believed it had no choice but to silence Galileo. “May God forgive him,” said Pope Urban VIII, “for having involved himself in these questions….There is one argument which nobody has been ever able to refute, which is that God is Almighty and may do as He sees fit. If He can do all, why question His works?”

Adapted from Galileo Galilei. In Brandt Aymar and Edward Sagarin. A Pictorial History of the World’s Great Trials New York: Bonanza Books, 1985, pp. 56-57. Used with permission of Bonanza Books.

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory