Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Welcome Prince Edward (Earl and Countess of Wessex) to Trinidad

The Son on Queen Elizabeth will be visiting Trinidad today Tuesday, with his wife Sofie. The Caribbean Catholic would like to welcome this royal couple onto our beautiful isle. The following is the newspaper article on the subject:

Arriving on board the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Rosalie on Tuesday 28 February, Their Royal Highnesses the Earl & Countess of Wessex will begin a 2 day tour of Trinidad & Tobago. The visit celebrates Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee and 50 years of Trinidad & Tobago’s Independence.

After a formal arrival ceremony, Their Royal Highnesses will call on President George Maxwell Richards at Knowsley. 25 Gold Award winners will receive their medals and certificates from the Prince and the President at a special presentation of The President’s Award, part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

The Honourable Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar will then host the Royal couple for a lunch, attended by members of the government, parliamentarians and the diplomatic corps.

After meeting members of the British High Commission, the British High Commissioner will host Their Royal Highnesses at a reception to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

On Wednesday 29 February, Prince Edward will visit Belmont Boys’ School to learn how the London 2012 Olympic Legacy will benefit Trinidad & Tobago. The International Inspirations programme teaches young people all around the world the inspiration of the Games and the transformational power of sport.

Princess Sophie will visit the Princess Elizabeth Centre which has dramatically improved the quality of life of thousands of disabled children over the past 60 years. HRH will unveil a plaque commemorating the visit and recognising the close links between the Centre and the Royal Family – the Centre was built on land paid for by a gift from Her Majesty the Queen and opened by the Princess Royal in 1953. Since that time, the centre has welcomed Her Majesty the Queen, Princess Alexandra and Prince Andrew as visitors.

The Royal couple will jointly visit the Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force Headquarters to observe a military parade. The visit comes at a time when a new generation of TTDF officers have enlisted for training at prestigious military schools in the UK, which will further strengthen the bond between the UK armed forces and TT Defence Force.

Later that afternoon, TRH the Earl & Countess of Wessex will visit the St John’s Ambulance headquarters where St John’s volunteers, TTCF and MILAT will all give demonstrations. The visit will incorporate the work of the Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation (CVQO) in Trinidad & Tobago and their partnerships with St John’s Ambulance, TT Cadet Force and MILAT.

The visit will conclude with a dinner attended by members of the British Business community and the The Hon Minister for Trade & Industry Mr Stephen Cadiz, before their return to RFA Fort Rosalie. Further information: Matt Nottingham, British High Commission 350 0410 *All press accreditation to be obtained through Rodelle Phillips, GISL 638 3883

Monday, 27 February 2012

John Barrymore and Anthony Quinn: Quoting the Bible

I came across a website called "famous Catholics". Very interesting site. Below is an excerpt from the John Barrymore page and comes from Anthony Quinn biography: "The Original Sin: A Self-Portrait", pages 207-208:

[John Barrymore asked Anthony Quinn:] "Have you read the Bible?"

"Yes, sir."

"Holy Christ, you're kidding! I guess it's just you and me, and the Pope, who ever read the Bible anymore. Do you know the Song of Songs?"

"Yes, sir."

"'There be fore things I know now of--'"

He stopped in midair, waiting for me to finish the quotation. I continued the rest timidly: "'--the way of the eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock--'" But he finished the last two lines. "'--the way of a ship upon the sea and the way of a man with a maid.'" For at that moment he was Solomon.

We need more famous Catholics.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A chance to help Catholic Communications in Trinidad - Buy the Catholiuc News and win a trip


There was an article in the Catholic newspaper for the Archdiocese of Port of Spain that has me hopeful and excited yet, I need to know more. I suspect it was rushed in to press and maybe later a more detailed document will be released. I yearn for that.

Vernon Khelawan writes:

In the month of March, readers of the Catholic News will have a chance to support Catholic communications in our Archdiocese and win a trip to Rome.

How many people? One? Two? How long will that trip be for? Does it include meals and accommodations? Is there going to be a guided tour? Can one leave the city to venture to see the Pieta- The one piece of religious art outside of Rome that I long to see. tell me tell me tell me.

Catholic Media Services Ltd (Camsel) is collaborating with the organisers of the Pallium Pilgrimage during which Archbishop Joseph Harris will receive his pallium from Pope Benedict XVI at a special ceremony at St Peter’s. (The pallium is a woolen band worn on the shoulders over the vestments of a metropolitan archbishop, as a sign of his jurisdiction in his ecclesiastical province. The Pope usually confers the pallium on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul - June 29 - in Rome.)

So of course I want to see my Archbishop receive his Pallium.

For three Sundays – March 11, 18 and 25 – a coupon will be published in the Catholic News, which will serve as a raffle ticket. Participants will be required to fill out the coupon and drop it either in a special box at parish churches or at the Camsel office at 31 Independence Square, Port of Spain. Deadline for entries to reach Camsel’s office is March 30, with the drawing carded for Sunday, April 10.

I was thinking that raffle tickets need to be numbered.... but not really. Obviously, this is also a free raffle. I have four children in four schools, and almost everyone wants money for different activities. It is refreshing to see that you can have a free raffle - God's blessings are abound with Camsel and the good Monsignor Alexander.

To assist Camsel directly in its vital work of Catholic communications, the cover price of the Catholic News for the three Sundays will be increased to $5.00. From April 1, the price reverts to the normal $3.00.

Ahhh. There it is. The cost. Hidden but in plain site. I will buy four Catholic news on those weeks. Just to support this worthy cause. Because having thought it out.... I couldn't go on the pilgrimage if I wanted to. Well, God Bless their work anyway.

Following Synod 2005 Archbishop Edward Gilbert gave his blessings to have a communications arm set up in the Archdiocese. That decision saw the birth of Camsel, which began operations on July 1, 2008. Since that time Camsel has been involved in a wide range of communication projects all aimed at profiling in a positive way the work of the Church in the Archdiocese. Catholic News remains the major income earner for Camsel and the work of Catholic communications in general.

We are sure that Catholics all want to see continuing improvement in Archdiocesan communications and will therefore support this venture wholeheartedly.


The Death Penalty: my beleif, and the churchs teaching

I am against the death Penalty. I know that the last few Popes have been too. However, according to the Catechism of the Catholic church the death penalty is still acceptable:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

However in 2267 it speaks about means of protection of a people without death to the aggressor.... in other words incarceration with dignity.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

2268 and 2269 speaks some more on murder.

2268 The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.

Infanticide, fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break. Concern for eugenics or public health cannot justify any murder, even if commanded by public authority.

2269 The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person's death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.

The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone's death, even without the intention to do so.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

ANGEL IN THE ARCH - Trini artist at Horizons Art Gallary

ANGEL IN ARCH is a beautiful Collage by the artist Lisa Leid. It is a 9x12 inch piece... and only costs US$250.

It is available at

37 Mucurapo Road
St. James
Trinidad, WI
Phone: 868-628-9769
Email: info@horizonsartgallery.com

Catholic Band 2012 : Exodus - images of costumes

Well they have won their category- that is medium mass band. I checked the internet for pictures of the band and what I got is below:

AN OVERVIEW - THE COSTUMES (from the Guardian Newspaper)

ELDERS (from Trinidad Carnival Diary blog)

ELDERS - Carnival Day (from the Guardian Newspaper)

JEWISH SLAVES (from Trinidad Carnival Diary blog)

JEWISH SLAVES - Carnival Day (from Whats the idea Blog)

LAND OF MILK AND HONEY (From Trinidad Carnival Diary Blog)

LAND OF MILK AND HONEY (From Carnival Day - Catholic news)

EGYPTIANS (From Trinidad Carnival Diary Blog)

BURNING BUSH (from Trinidad Carnival Diary Blog)

RED SEA (from Trinidad Carnival Diary Blog)

Whats the idea Blog has this image up relating to the Catholic Band.... I can't figure out what this costume is other than MOSES... so Maybe it's Moses.

Catholic band wins Medium Band of Year crown 2012

SASHA HARRINANAN has a very interesting article on the Newsday of Thursday, February 23 2012 entitled Catholic band cops medium band of the year crown.

AFTER only its second year in existence, The Word and Associates — commonly referred to as the Catholic band — copped the 2012 Carnival Medium Band of the Year title for its portrayal

Exodus - the Second Book of the Bible.

Committee member and well-known Carnival Pierrot Grenade character Felix Edinborough, shared his joy with Newsday yesterday, saying, “We were hoping to place in the top five but as the results were called out, we didn’t hear our name and felt so disappointed. Then they said Exodus had won medium band of the year and I was pleasantly surprised. That was such great news,” Ediborough said.

Edinborough added that the $175,000 first prize would help the band pay off debts owing from its 2011 debut, when only 150 people registered to play. The presentation Genesis 1 — Creation copped seventh place in the Medium Band category last year. “We were in serious debt last year because bringing out a band costs lots of money and we didn’t get the numbers we were expecting. The recognition that comes from winning our category is also an incentive for us to keep bringing out creative costumes designed and manufactured right here in Trinidad,” Edinborough said.

Carnival 2012 was also better for “The Word and Associates” in terms of masqueraders the band went from about 150 revellers last year to over 300 this year. Edinborough said he is looking forward to even more people crossing the stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah next year but said the band does not want to grow to an unmanageable size.

“We are enjoying being a medium sized-band and hope to see our numbers grow for Carnival 2013, but we don’t want to get too big. I hope our win will encourage more young people to play with us, once they realise you can have fun while wearing more than the usual bikini and beads costumes. Our win shows you can celebrate Trinidad and Tobago’s culture and creativity in a wholesome way, without the use of alcohol or drugs,” Edinborough declared.

The Catholic band committee member also expressed hope that winning senior medium band of the year 2012 would serve as an incentive to potential masqueraders to register with the band in the future. “Although we doubled our numbers this year, we were hoping for at least 300 people in one section but we ended up with about 100. So hopefully our win will earn the band more recognition and in turn, earlier registration.”

Edinborough added that the band started working on its Carnival 2012 presentation last September with the launch in November, during the limited state of emergency. Not so this time around, as “The Word and Associates” intends to begin work on Leviticus, its 2013 presentation, sometime after Easter.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Protestant leaders join battle against Obama insurance proposal

Here is an interesting article. it appeared on Iona institute website on February 21st 2012/ The Author is listed as "Admin"

Protestant leaders join battle against Obama insurance proposal

More than 2,500 Protestant leaders have signed a letter opposing the Obama Administration’s controversial mandate forcing religious institutions to cover abortifacients, sterilisations and contraception in their insurance plans.

The letter, published by the Family Research Council (FRC), a pro-family, pro-religion think tank calls the mandate “a severe blow to our religious liberty” and accuses the Administration of ignoring “the conscience rights of many Catholic and Protestant Americans”.

The letter says: “Our country was founded on certain freedoms, the first of which is the freedom of religion. The ability of a religious person to follow their conscience without fearing government intervention has long been a protected right for Americans. It is unfathomable to picture a country that would deny religious freedoms.”

Speaking at a news conference at which the letter was released, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land said, "This is about conscience, not contraception. And it's about religious freedom.

"The Obama administration is trying to run roughshod over the consciences" of Catholics, evangelicals and others, said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Lifesitenews reports.

Southern Baptist leaders have joined the leadership of the Catholic Church, other Protestant bodies and some Jewish organizations in expressing opposition to the rule since the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Jan. 20 that health plans must cover contraceptives and sterilizations as preventive services for employees.

The mandate requires coverage of contraceptives, as defined by the Food and Drug Administration, that can cause abortions, such as "ella;" emergency contraception, such as Plan B; and the intrauterine device (IUD). Those methods all have mechanisms that can prevent tiny embryos from implanting in the uterine wall. In the case of "ella," it also can block production of the hormone progesterone, destroying the placenta that provides nutrition to the embryo and causing the unborn child's death after implantation.

Opponents of the rule especially have protested its failure to provide an adequate religious or conscience exemption.

Like Land, FRC President Tony Perkins told reporters the issue is religious liberty.

"We will not tolerate any denomination having their religious freedom infringed upon by the government of the United States. If there ever was a separation of Church and State violation, this is it," Perkins said, speaking to reporters at a news conference held during the annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters in Nashville.

The refusal to provide an adequate religious exemption for the "contraceptive mandate" demonstrates a trend of the Obama administration, Land said.

"This is part of an attempt to atrophy, to nullify, to confine and constrain, and to emasculate and neuter religious freedom down to freedom of worship," Land told reporters. "The president and his administration consistently talk about freedom of worship. ... Freedom of worship is confined to the space between your ears and the space between your shoulders at home and church or home and synagogue or home and temple or home and mosque.”

The letter is the latest part of a growing campaign against the mandate. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have already rejected a so-called compromise on the part of the Administration, saying that “[t]he only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services”.

Earlier this month, President Obama proposed a change to his plan which he claimed would accommodate religious institutions with objections to the health mandate by relieving them of the requirement to pay for coverage of contraception, the Morning After Pill, which is an abortifacient, and sterilisation.

But the change still required them to enroll their staff in schemes that provide such coverage.

The USCCB responded to the move by saying that their original objection to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations was that they forced “private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen — to cover sterilisation and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion”.

The bishops noted that all the other mandated “preventive services” under the HHS regulations address the prevention of disease, “and pregnancy is not a disease”.

They added: “Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws.”

In addition, they said that Obama’s mandate would saddle many individuals and institutions with the burden of facilitating services that the Church considers immoral, among them “insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidise the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage.”

While suggesting that the President’s changes deserved “careful moral analysis,” they nonetheless declared that “the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders — for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals — is unacceptable and must be corrected.”

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What is the difference between Soul and Spirit

The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts more incisively than any two-edged sword: it can seek out the place where soul is divided from spirit, or joints from marrow; it can pass judgement on secret emotions and thoughts. Hebrews 4:12

The above scripture has haunted me for years. My focus has always been :what is the difference between Soul and Spirit? It should have been that the Word of God penetrates to our deepest being.I came across the version below recently:

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

There is a defination of Soul as the breath of life and the spirit as the Immortal.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes the following on the soul (greek: Psyche)

The soul may be defined as the ultimate internal principle by which we think, feel, and will, and by which our bodies are animated.....
The Gospel language is popular, not technical. Psyche and pneuma (spirit) are used indifferently either for the principle of natural life or for spirit in the strict sense. Body and soul are recognized as a dualism and their values contrasted: "Fear ye not them that kill the body... but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell."....
Descartes conceived the soul as essentially thinking (i.e. conscious) substance, and body as essentially extended substance. The two are thus simply disparate realities, with no vital connection between them. This is significantly marked by his theory of the soul's location in the body. Unlike the Scholastics he confines it to a single point — the pineal gland....
(And then after a very long article ends with this ditty) such is the Catholic doctrine on the nature, unity, substantiality, spirituality, and origin of the soul.

On the Spirit it has this to say:

the principle of life was often represented under the figure of a breath of air. The breath is the most obvious symptom of life, its cessation the invariable mark of death; invisible and impalpable, it stands for the unseen mysterious force behind the vital processes. Accordingly we find the word "spirit" used in several different but allied senses: (1) as signifying a living, intelligent, incorporeal being, such as the soul; (2) as the fiery essence or breath (the Stoic pneuma) which was supposed to be the universal vital force; (3) as signifying some refined form of bodily substance, a fluid believed to act as a medium between mind and the grosser matter of the body....
Matter has generally been conceived as in one sense or another the limitation of spirit. Hence, finite spirits were thought to require a body as a principle of individuation and limitation; only God, the Infinite Spirit, was free from all admixture of matter. Thus, when we find the angels described as asomatoi or auloi, in the writings of the Fathers, this properly means only that the angels do not possess a gross, fleshly body; it does not at all imply a nature absolutely immaterial.... (Angels are spirits but not infinite... only God is infinite.

The more I read on one or the other, the more I get confused. I want a simple exact explaination. Without that. How can I be sure. How do I know the role of any of these.

On the Catholic Answers website I found the following:

Some protestants believe the "soul" is the "spark of life" which all living things possess (trees, animals, etc), whereas the "spirit" is the essence of the Divine Nature which is specific to humans (who possess both soul and spirit), but the Catholic Church does not teach such a doctrine.

Actually, that is EXACTLY what the Church teaches.

A Soul is what animates living matter, without a soul, there is no material life.

This was affirmed by both Augustine and Aquinas.

St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica I-II, Q78, specifically articles 1-2

Plants have an "animative' soul, that provides the general necessities of life.

Animals have a "Sensitive Soul", that can respond to input from the senses.

Both of these souls are non Spiritual. They have a finite existance, the soul of plants and animals cease to exist when the life of the creature is over.

Humans, on the other hand, have a Rational soul. We know and understand good vs. evil. We can make decisions on such knowledge.

Our souls are also Spiritual. God IS Spirit (He is not made of Spirit, He IS Spirit). Our souls, unlike the animals, are made in the likeness and image of God. Our souls, therefore are Spiritual in Essence. We are, therefore unique in all of creation, being creatures of both matter AND Spirit.

The Angels, are creatures of pure Spirit.

So I am still not sure.... so I'll go along with the last answer.

New Cardinal ex Nuncio to Trinidad and other West Indian islands

Pope Benedict XVI elevated D. Manuel Monteiro de Castro, 73, to the prestigious College of Cardinals in an elaborate ceremony at the Vatican on Saturday.

Born in Santa Eufémia de Prazins, Guimarães, mainland Portugal, D. Manuel was elevated to the position along with 21 other new cardinals, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the head Archdiocese of New York, and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore.

At the Vatican since 2009, D. Manuel was appointment by Benedict XVI, in January 2012, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary. Previously, he had served as Vatican’s secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.

The College of Cardinals is best known for forming the assembly that names the new pope. With the new appointments, there are 125 cardinals eligible to vote for a new pope and 214 total cardinals. Cardinals who are over 80 years old are not allowed to vote.

Ordained priest in 1961 he was elevated to bishop in 1985. He is the third Portuguese appointed cardinal with, namely, Cardinal Emeritus D. José Saraiva Martins and D. José Policarpo the Cardinal of Lisbon.

In 1985 D. Manuel Monteiro de Castro was appointed archbishop and pro-nuncio to the countries in the West Indies that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, including The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, and apostolic delegate for the other territories, such as the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Netherlands Antilles.

- published in the Portuguese American Journal.

Manuel Monteiro de Castro
Cardinal-Deacon of S. Domenico di Guzman
Major Penitentiary of Apostolic Penitentiary
Born: 1938.03.29 (Portugal)
Ordained Priest: 1961.07.09
Consecrated Bishop: 1985.03.23
Created Cardinal: 2012.02.18

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Bahamas (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Barbados (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Belize (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Dominica (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Jamaica (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Grenada (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Saint Lucia (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Trinidad and Tobago (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Delegate of Antille (1985.02.16 – 1990.08.21)

Titular Archbishop of Beneventum (1985.02.16 – 2012.02.18)

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio of Antigua and Barbuda (1987.04.25 – 1990.08.21)

Apostolic Nuncio of Honduras (1990.08.21 – 1991.04.12)

Apostolic Nuncio of El Salvador (1990.08.21 – 1998.02.02)

Apostolic Nuncio of Namibia (1998.02.02 – 2000.03.01)

Apostolic Nuncio of South Africa (1998.02.02 – 2000.03.01)

Apostolic Nuncio of Swaziland (1998.02.02 – 2000.03.01)

Apostolic Nuncio of Lesotho (1998.03.07 – 2000.03.01)

Apostolic Nuncio of Andorra (2000.03.01 – 2009.07.03)

Apostolic Nuncio of Spain (2000.03.01 – 2009.07.03)

Permanent Observer of World Tourism Organization (WTO) (2007.12.07 – 2009.07.03)

Secretary of Congregation for Bishops (2009.07.03 – 2012.01.05)

Secretary of College of Cardinals (2009.10.21 – 2012.01.05)

Major Penitentiary of Apostolic Penitentiary (2012.01.05 – ...)

Cardinal-Deacon of S. Domenico di Guzman (2012.02.18 – ...)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Santorum in the News poking Obama

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum challenged President Barack Obama's Christian beliefs on Saturday, saying White House policies were motivated by a "different theology."

A devout Roman Catholic who has risen to the top of Republican polls in recent days, Santorum said the Obama administration had failed to prevent gas prices rising and was using "political science" in the debate about climate change.

Obama's agenda is "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology," Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.

When asked about the statement at a news conference later, Santorum said, "If the president says he's a Christian, he's a Christian."

But Santorum did not back down from the assertion that Obama's values run against those of Christianity.

"He is imposing his values on the Christian church. He can categorize those values anyway he wants. I'm not going to," Santorum told reporters.

A social conservative, Santorum is increasingly seen as a champion for evangelical Christians in fights with Democrats over contraception and gay marriage.

"This is just the latest low in a Republican primary campaign that has been fueled by distortions, ugliness, and searing pessimism and negativity - a stark contrast with the President who is focused everyday on creating jobs and restoring economic security for the middle class," said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

The campaign's response signaled a new respect for Santorum. Until this week, the Obama campaign appeared exclusively focused on Mitt Romney. Republicans are waging a state-by-state contest to pick a candidate to challenge Obama in November's election.

At a campaign appearance in Florida last month, Santorum declined to correct a voter who called Obama, a Christian, an "avowed Muslim."

Santorum told CNN after that incident, "I don't feel it's my obligation every time someone says something I don't agree with to contradict them, and the president's a big boy, he can defend himself."


On Saturday, Santorum also took aim at Romney, his main Republican rival, on one of the central accomplishments of his resume, saying the former Massachusetts governor's rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics required millions of dollars in handouts from the federal government.

The attack was a response to the Romney camp trying to portray Santorum as a proponent of big government because of his use of earmarks while he served in the U.S. Senate.

"He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake Olympic Games - in an earmark," Santorum said.

"One of his strongest supporters, John McCain called it potentially the worst boondoggle in earmark history. And now Governor Romney is suggesting, 'Oh, Rick Santorum earmarked,' as he requested almost half a billion dollars of earmarks as governor of Massachusetts to his federal congressmen and senators. Does the word hypocrisy come to mind?" Santorum said.

Romney often talks of how he turned around the struggling Olympics organization and is appearing in Utah on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Olympics.

In a statement, the Romney campaign said Santorum was in a weak position to challenge its candidate on big spending.

"Sometimes when you shoot from the hip, you end up shooting yourself in the foot. There is a pretty wide gulf between seeking money for post-9/11 security at the Olympics and seeking earmarks for polar bear exhibits at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Mitt Romney wants to ban earmarks, Senator Santorum wants more 'Bridges to Nowhere,'" said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Catholic News Editorial Critique - February 19, 2012

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
- Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller

You know, I have a love hate relation with the Archdiocese of Port of Spain Catholic newspaper. I think that this should be the place I go to read all about the issues that have occurred in the Catholic world. Or a place to go to find out what our politicians are thinking about issues that affect Catholics. A rallying banner for Catholics to get up and protest... make our voices heard.

In some ways the newspaper is, but in many ways it is not.

Today I read the editorial from June Johnson the Editor of the Catholic News. Now usually this editorial is carried on the Sunday Newsday Newspaper as well. And perhaps that is why she tackled the issue that she did in the Editorial column - Sharing allegiances???

The issue is that a group of officers searched the house and confiscated the computer (at his work office) of a Newsday reporter. The Police Commissioner said that he knew nothing of it. The Minister who the police group is accountable to said he knew nothing of it. No one was held accountable. Still, Ms Johnson took issue with something the Police Commissioner said. And she has a right to do so.

I felt that Ms Johnson wrote with a passion that needs to be expressed more...

We as Catholics need to be the protectors and the watchdog for high Moral living in the country. We can't leave this up to Pentecostal Pastor Cuffie alone.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Are Trinidad Catholic schools preparing our children for heaven or earth?

I am not a big fan of Carnival. When it comes to carnival there is a fish and fowl mentality. Either you love it or you hate it. I don't hate it. I just think that it is not for me. Carnival originated from Catholicism - A time for feasting and frolicking before the fasting of lent.

My issue with Carnival is not Carnival, but Catholics priority to Carnival- Specifically in the Schools. There is a sense of we MUST partake. Well OK. But if we are to partake we must give Catholic Tradition and education as big a billing or a bigger billing.

Our Synod Mandate this year - the second Pastoral Priority is Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity. The Pontifical Council for Culture has some recommendations for this. One States:

Addressing the split between the Gospel and culture. We need to regain the depths of our own tradition and take hold of our identity as Catholics before we can become relevant and make an impact on society.

So I received a list of School activities for the term. Fund raisers, school meetings, carnival activities, tests and Ash Wednesday. ASH WEDNESDAY ALONE! Comon man! A Catholic school should have feast days and Catholic club activities and dates noted on the school term agenda. Are we raising children to join the secular world, or are we raising children to live their life for heaven?

Our First Pastoral priority (first Synod Mandate) was New Evangelisation. Vernon Ramkhelwan In a May 22 2011 article on the Port of Spain Archdiocese website says that Evangelising isn't working:

One of the weaknesses of the Church in Trinidad and Tobago is its inability to attract more vocations. This problem has been around for some time and there has been the constant call for national prayers to fill the void. But the situation tells us one thing – the New Evangelisation – has not been powerful enough

The reason it isn't working, Vernon, is because we get the kids up to go to school, we go to work. We pick up the kids. They do home work. We cook, clean, and try to get some me time. We need re-enforcement when the kids are not with us. THAT is the role of the CATHOLIC school.

Our current Archbishop Joe Harris says that "the priesthood is an endangered species but the Church cannot exist without priests. Pray that your son becomes a priest. Help him imagine himself as a priest.” Parents often encouraged their children to become lawyers, doctors, engineers or other professionals for the financial benefits, he added. “But we need to pray that they become holy doctors, holy lawyers or holy engineers,” so that they could give back to society." - Where can we reinforce this your grace other than in the SCHOOLS.

Well,I am told that the Archdiocese has a plan. I don't know where we are with this plan. The plan says that "there will be well rounded students by 2015".

An approved Catholic Education Strategic Plan produced under the aegis of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM), was presented to and accepted by Archbishop Edward Gilbert in April 2011 by a Strategic Planning Committee chaired by retired Justice Annestine Sealey. The plan, according to the Introduction, “is the culmination of extensive analysis and assessment of environment and strategic options for Primary level Catholic Education.”

Well. I don't know that that plans speaks about promoting Catholic teachings and ensuring that the catholic child becomes well versed with what we do as Catholics: Feeding the poor, visiting the sick, praying and interceding, being good people.

I want to plead to Catholic School Principals. Make an effort. Our church needs it. Our Nation needs it. Do not let Carnival have a bigger billing than Easter and Jesus.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Giant LIFE Balloon Rosary

This beautiful article from August 2011 complete with photoa was sent to me by my wife. Thanks babe!

(August 15, 2011) - Just in time for the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, a 75-foot rosary floats skyward from Chicago 's Michigan Avenue Bridge claiming the Magnificent Mile for Mary. A giant rosary floated gracefully over Chicago 's busy tourism district on Friday as thousands looked on.

The six-foot gold cross hanging from the rosary sparkled in the sunlight as it very slowly ascended between the Tribune tower and the Wrigley building. The rosary of helium-filled yellow balloons bearing the word LIFE then floated down Michigan Avenue over the Hancock Tower and past North Ave Beach.

Cameras and cell phones flew into action as people responded to the unexpected sight.

"There was an excitement all around us and there were people in tears at the sight of the rosary. I think we often take it for granted the power of a simple witness to the faith," said a camp counsellor.

A passerby tweeted, "A balloon rosary in the air. My faith confirmed :)", while another surprised Chicagoan wrote, "what the... giant balloon rosary, with cross, just floated heavenward from the Michigan avenue bridge." The rosary was the craft of 20 imaginative elementary school-aged girls and their counsellors participating in a summer camp at a Chicago Catholic Parish. The girls prayed the rosary in front of the Washington Blvd Family Planning Associates asking Our Lady for an end to abortion. They then carried the rosary, cross-first, through downtown Chicago 's peak traffic to the cheers, and sometimes jeers, of pedestrians and motorists. Homeless people gave high fives, street preachers started singing Gospel songs, and semi-truck drivers shook the streets sounding their truck horns in approval. "I was completely ecstatic the whole time. I loved seeing how many people on a random street corner were thrilled. It is a lot more than we tend to think," said one participant.

One of the girls said, "It was the prettiest rosary I have ever seen. I liked how it would float up and sit and then float up and sit. It looked really pretty against the buildings and the sky."

Another camper said, "The best way to describe it was 'beautiful'. I didn't see one frowning face. It evangelized everyone who saw it." This is the latest of a series of spontaneous acts of joy across the United States involving the yellow LIFE balloons. Sightings of LIFE balloons at prayer vigils, county fairs and flash mobs leave many wondering if the trend will impact this year's March for Life in Washington DC

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

how do we come up with the dates for Easter, Passover and Ash Wednesday

So I heard two people chatting on the roadside as I was driving by. "How do they come up with the date for Carnival. " The other person looked very perplexed and responded "I doh know."

Well for those two clueless people, who I hope were not Catholic or children of Catholics,I have news for you.

It all begins with the Jewish Passover festival. Passover starts on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. This varies by year since the Jewish year is a lunar year and thus differs from the Gregorian calendar. It always falls in the springtime, though (in the Northern Hemisphere).

So now lets move to Easter. Jesus was crucified and laid to rest the day before a special Sabbath, it was a passover sabbath. He rose on the Sunday after. So Easter is now forever linked to Passover.

According to Wiki: The Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the vernal (spring) equinox.

We know that Easter must always occur on a Sunday, because Sunday was the day of Christ's Resurrection. But why the paschal full moon? Because that was the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar, and the Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter was the Sunday after Passover.

The Church does not use the exact date of the paschal full moon but an approximation, For calculation purposes, the full moon is always set at the 14th day of the lunar month (the lunar month begins with the new moon). Likewise, the Church sets the date of the vernal equinox at March 21, even though it can occur on March 20. Both approximations allow the Church to set a universal date for Easter. Easter cannot fall before March 21 and after April 25th.

So lets go back a bit
The vernal equinox is March 21st
The full moon after the vernal equinox in 2012 is April 6th. A Friday.
Easter Sunday 2012 is then April 8th 2012

Now that you know how Easter gets figured out solve for Ash Wednesday and you have carnival. Ash Wednesday is usually 46 days before Easter Sunday. You need to count the days back.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

valantine day crackdown in Saudi Arabia

The following article showed up on the Huffington Posts for 14th February 2012:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The Saudi religious police launched Thursday a nationwide crackdown on stores selling items that are red or in any other way allude to the banned celebrations of Valentine's Day, a Saudi official said.

Members of the feared religious police were inspecting shops for red roses, heart-shaped products or gifts wrapped in red, and ordering storeowners to get rid of them, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Red-colored or heart-shaped items are legal at other times of the year, but as Feb. 14 nears they become contraband in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom bans celebration of Western holidays such as Valentine's Day, named after a Christian saint said to have been martyred by the Romans in the 3rd Century.

Most shops in Riyadh's upscale neighborhoods have removed all red items from their shelves. A statement by the religious police, informally known as the muttawa, was published in Saudi newspapers, warning shop owners against any violations.

"Those who don't comply will be punished," the statement said, without spelling out what measures would befall the offenders.

The Valentine's Day prohibition is in line with Saudi's strict Wahhabi school of Islam that the kingdom has followed for more than a century. The birthplace of Islam also bans several Muslim holidays except the two most important ones because it considers them "religious innovations" that Islam doesn't sanction.

Even birthdays and Mother's Day are frowned on by the religious establishment, although people almost never get punished for celebrating them.

Many Saudis, who still want to mark the popular Valentine's, do their shopping weeks before the holiday.

Each year, the religious police mobilize ahead of Feb. 14 and descend on gift and flower shops, confiscating all red items, including flowers.

Attitudes toward Valentine's Day vary across the Arab world, with devout Muslims opposing the holiday as a Western celebration of romantic love that corrupts Muslim youth.

The Egyptian capital, Cairo, is a sharp contrast to the Saudi restrictions, with shops and restaurants going overboard in red ribbon and heart decorations.

Dubai, a conservative Muslim city-state with a Western outlook, is every year taken over by a Valentine craze. Luxury hotels are draped in red, offering romantic dinner specials. Malls and cafes are decorated with giant hearts and flower shops offer promotional deals on roses and fancy bouquets.

Apparently prompted by the Saudi ban, a group in the Philippines advocating the welfare of Filipino overseas workers – a million of whom work in Saudi Arabia and another million elsewhere in the Middle East – cautioned its countrymen to celebrate Valentine's Day only in private and refrain from publicly greeting anyone with "Happy Valentine's" across the region.

"We are urging fellow Filipinos in the Middle East, especially lovers, just to celebrate their Valentine's Day secretly and with utmost care," said John Leonard Monterona of the Migrante group.

He said the group advised against carrying anything that is red, including toys, hearts, and flowers, or even wearing red dresses or T-shirts. Instead, he urged Filipinos to visit Internet cafes to chat with their loved ones, give them a call or send text messages.

Catholic Church issues statement to Trini Carnival Revelers: Don't fall prey to moral relatism

The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) urges citizens and visitors to exercise self-control and modesty in their dress over the Carnival season. The CCSJ said a sense of decorum seemed to “fly through the window” at Carnival. In a statement, chair of the group Leela Ramdeen said:

“There seems to be no shame or embarrassment by those who are improperly dressed or who engage in lewd dancing. “Those who fall prey to moral relativism believe that anything goes nowadays.”

She said adults must model modesty so that young people will be inspired to follow their lead. She said some values were being eroded and it was time to stem the tide of irresponsible behaviour. Her statement added that citizens should demonstrate dignity as the country celebrates its 50th Independence anniversary in August. Ramdeen Said:

“Our forebears worked long and hard to build this country. “They passed the baton to us so that we will continue the important work of nation building

Monday, 13 February 2012

shame shame nicki minaj, you have made trini Cahtolics sad.

Shame Shame Nicki Minaj or Onika Maraj or madonna wannabe. You did not have to sink so low in your Grammy Award performance 2012. You are a shame to Catholics in Trinidad... where you were born.


Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist Issue Statement on President Obama’s So-Called Compromise


Ann Arbor, MI - In response to President Obama’s remarks regarding the final rule for individual and group health plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Mother Mary Assumpta Long, O.P., the Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist released the following statement:

“Regarding the so-called compromise by President Obama on the Department of Health and Human Services rule for “preventative” services that mandate coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and artificial contraception for their employees, the mandate still compromises religious, economic, and political liberty.

Despite the assurances by President Obama that separating the premiums paid by religious institutions to insurance companies somehow protects the religious liberty of Catholic and other religious institutions, the bottom line is these institutions will still have to pay the insurance company that is mandated to provide these services for free to any employee who wants these services. It is insulting for President Obama and his administration to suggest the so-called compromise “should be net cost neutral.” It is simply impossible to ensure that the insurance companies will not pass on those costs to the organizations and individuals who conscientiously object to their insurance policies covering abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and artificial contraception. In short, not only does the Administration not comprehend Catholic moral reasoning and the full-meaning of the principle of religious liberty, it does not even understand the basic economics of health-care insurance. The fact that Planned Parenthood has so quickly expressed satisfaction with these arrangements only confirms that nothing has changed in substance.

As the Second Vatican Council declared in paragraph four of its Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae:
“religious communities rightfully claim freedom in order that they may govern themselves according to their own norms, honor the Supreme Being in public worship, assist their members in the practice of the religious life, strengthen them by instruction, and promote institutions in which they may join together for the purpose of ordering their own lives in accordance with their religious principles.”

Moreover, as citizens of the United States we are guaranteed by the Constitution the right to fully and vibrantly live our Catholic faith according to the teachings of the Church. We as Catholics demand that our institutions not be required to formally or materially cooperate in acts that the Church has always taught to be intrinsically evil.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist plead with God to protect the ability for all Americans to freely exercise their religious liberty. The Dominican Sisters of Mary will offer up daily prayers with the intention that this unjust mandate be overturned, and we will do so until it is overturned.”

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is a Roman Catholic community of women religious based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our primary apostolate is the education and formation of young people. We remain open to engaging the modern culture with new forms of evangelization in order to preach the Gospel and teach the Truth. In 15 years, the Sisters have grown to over 100 in 14 years, the average age is 28 and the average age of the women who enter is 21. Sisters represent most of the States across the U.S., various Provinces in Canada, and countries in Europe and Asia.

Joseph Cella
josephjcella "at" gmail.com

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Is Carnival bad?

I read an article in the Port of Spain Catholic news( february 12 2012)that really impressed me. The Author Pasqualina Hoford really made a strong point about Trinidad Carnival, the Church and culture. The article is called:

Carnival and culture - Unless you become like little children

Our late, great pope Blessed John Paul II made an incredible statement in his book about his vision for marriage and the family called The Splendour of Love. He said “The driving force which shapes history is not politics, or economics or military might. It is culture” (SL, 346).

I find this a fascinating statement, which immediately buzzed around in my head and could find no place else to rest, but on the issue of Carnival and my experience of it. I firmly believe that Carnival is not “bad”, but that people do a lot of “bad” things at Carnival time. I don’t think that their “bad behaviour” can be objectively transferred to this event, as it is not Carnival that causes them to choose such behaviour. The whole debate about whether it is part of our culture or not is moot for me, because it became a part of my life from birth.

I grew up in a family where Carnival was a big thing. Each year I looked forward to Carnival with mounting excitement and eager anticipation of the days when we would go out onto the streets and jump up and celebrate. I am not much of a drinker, and have never been physically able to “wine down to the ground” as I lack such balance and flexibility. When I got married, my husband was averse to crowds and the excessive heat so we have more or less stayed away from downtown since then. I still miss that excitement sometimes.

I was in support of the efforts of the “Catholic Band”, readily giving my opinion to all who asked, my support being a surprise to some non-Catholics. I did not play in the band, as I didn’t think I could still have that kind of stamina.

My uncle, who was visiting from Canada, encouraged us to come to the Children’s Carnival on the Saturday, as he had helped make costumes for one of the bands. I was so happy that I went.

Children’s Carnival is a joy to behold. The costumes are fantastic and the energy of the children and their unfading excitement and eagerness to cross the stage is quite refreshing. I stood at the top of Frederick St at the entrance to the Savannah for about two – three hours and what I saw gave me hope: joy, excitement, tiredness with no complaint or whining; enormous support from parents and teachers alike; even a Religious Sister in habit, with three little ones in tow, gently offering them water to drink and a treat of iced lollies. The DJs were constantly encouraging the children and all seemed to be safe and orderly. For the whole time I stood there I only witnessed one child trying to “put down a wine” as people would say. Everyone else was jumping up and having great fun.

So what does this have to do with John Paul’s statement? Well, at first glance it would seem that the history of Trinidad and Tobago, especially our future history, would be shaped by our culture. We have become famous for our excessive Internet hits for pornography and for the scandalous behaviour and debauchery (as one media house put it) that prevail at Carnival time. Will we sit by and let this be the final word?

The Church teaches us in the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes #58 that, “The Gospel of Christ constantly renews the life and culture of fallen man; it combats and removes the errors and evils resulting from the permanent allurement of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. By riches coming from above, it makes fruitful, as it were from within, the spiritual qualities and traditions of every people and of every age. It strengthens, perfects and restores them in Christ. Thus the Church, in the very fulfilment of her own function stimulates and advances human and civic culture; by her action, also by her liturgy, she leads men toward interior liberty.” And also in the Catechism, CCC 1917 “It is incumbent on those who exercise authority to strengthen the values that inspire the confidence of the members of the group and encourage them to put themselves at the service of others. Participation begins with education and culture. One is entitled to think that the future of humanity is in the hands of those who are capable of providing the generations to come with reasons for life and optimism."

These words seem to confer a duty on us all to plant the truth of the Gospel deep in our hearts, to live this in our daily lives and search for ways to educate ourselves and those around us so that our culture will be transformed. Carnival has become too much a part of who we are as a people to hide from it, or even worse, to think that it is bigger than Christ himself.

I urge us all to believe in the power of Christ’s Gospel of Good News. Make a better name for T&T. Live a better way every day. Don’t let the behaviour of others be all that we have to offer. Offer ourselves.

Friday, 10 February 2012

EWTN Sues the US government over contraceptive mandate

The headline makes you wonder. Why is the US government attacking the Catholic Church? How can we fight back? The answers to these are that (1) It would seem that Obama has an issue with the Catholic Church, (2) Every parish, group, organisation and business should sue the US Government and tie up the courts in these issues.

According to the february 9th 2012 articel on the Catholic News Agaency EWTN says:

“We had no other option but to take this to the courts,” EWTN President and CEO Michael Warsaw said in an announcement about the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. “There is no question that this mandate violates our First Amendment rights.”

“Under the HHS mandate, EWTN is being forced by the government to make a choice,” Warsaw explained. “Either we provide employees coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and violate our conscience or offer our employees and their families no health insurance coverage at all. Neither of those choices is acceptable.

The government is forcing EWTN, first, to inform its employees about how to get contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs, a concept known as forced speech.”

“To make the matter worse, the government then will force EWTN to use its donors’ funds to pay for these same morally objectionable procedures or to pay for the huge fines it will levy against us if we fail to provide health care insurance.”

If the administration's rule remains in place, the media network could eventually face fines of over $600,000 annually for refusing to underwrite policies contradicting its beliefs.

“This is a moment when EWTN, as a Catholic organization, has to step up and say that enough is enough,” the network's president and CEO declared”

In another article USCCB President and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan says: “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience,”

Yet another news article tells of Bidens split from the President. apparently, the White house top people are split on Obamas law to force Catholics and other religious bodies to follow the Abortion mandate. Biden is the first Catholic Vice president the US has ever had. Biden has advised that Obamas decision could cause the Democrats to loose the next Presidential Election - Particularly in swing states where the Catholic vote could count.

But the fight is not only with Catholics. All faith based groups have to follow the Obama mandate. The Catholic League for Religious and social Liberties in a press release dated february 7th says:

We have been inundated with support from Protestants, Jews, Mormons, and others. When the federal government seeks to impose a radical secular agenda on religious entities, denying them the right to exercise their doctrinal prerogatives, it is trampling on the First Amendment rights of the faithful.

The Amish, Christian Scientists and any other religious group that does not accept social security payments or benifits are exempt from the Obama care Health Insuance plan.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Christian Victoria Secret Model decides to quit modeling lingerie

This remarkable story By Jennifer Abbey, dated Feb 8, 2012 was on the ABC news website:

Victoria’s Secret Model Quits to Reserve Body ‘for My Husband’

Model Kylie Bisutti, 21, has decided to leave Victoria’s Secret because it clashes with her Christian beliefs.

“I just became so convicted of honoring the Lord and my body and wanting to be a role model for other women out there who look up to me,” Bisutti said today on “Good Morning America.”

The California native beat out 10,000 hopefuls in 2009 to win the Victoria’s Secret Model Search. She was 19 and recently married at the time.

But wearing the coveted angel wings and walking the runway with Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr wasn’t quite what Bisutti had hoped for.

“I was growing in my relationship with the Lord and my faith. I’m a strong believing Christian,” Bisutti told “GMA” of how her thoughts on the job she has described as her “absolutely biggest goal in life” began to change.

“It was more of just a heart issue for me,” she said.

Though Bisutti has cited her husband and her desire to keep their marriage special as factors in her decision to leave her lingerie modeling days behind, she said the decision was hers alone.

“He was so, so supportive of me and I’m so thankful that he let me grow and let me come to this decision on my own,” she said of her husband.

Bisutti’s decision to leave the lingerie company was also spurred on by an encounter with her 8-year-old cousin.

“I was doing my makeup in the mirror one day and she was watching me,” Bisutti said. “She looked at me and was like, ‘You know, I think I want to stop eating so I can look like you.’”

“It just broke my heart because she looks up to me and I didn’t want to be that type of person that she thought she had to do that to be beautiful,” she said. “Thousands of girls that think that being beautiful is an outer issue and really it’s a heart issue.”

On Dec. 1, one day after the nationally televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, in which Bisutti didn’t appear, aired, the model posted to her Twitter page, “For all of you that were looking for me in the Victorias Secret runway show this year, I wasn’t in it. I have decided not to model lingerie Because I personally feel that I am not honoring God or my husband by doing it. My marriage is very important & with divorce rates rising I want to do everything I can to protect my marriage and be respectful to my husband. God graciously gave me this marriage and this life and my desire is to live a Godly faithful life, I don’t however judge others for what they do. Everyone is convicted on different levels.”

Bisutti says her headline-making decision does not mean she is giving up her modeling career altogether.

“I’m definitely going to pursue modeling,” she said on “GMA.” “I just want to be more wholesome about it and the jobs that I am going to choose are always going to be honoring the Lord.”

Monday, 6 February 2012

Catholicism still dominant in Caribbean, but its influence wanes

I came across an interesting article on the website "Catholic News Agency" It was dated 6th February and written by Ezra Fieser and titled:

Catholicism still dominant in Caribbean, but its influence wanes

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) -- Trinidad's only Catholic seminary educated future clergy members for six decades, sending graduates to ministries throughout the Caribbean.

But by 2010, the Regional Seminary of St. John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs had more staff than students and was losing nearly $100,000 a year. The Antilles Episcopal Conference closed it.

The seminarians were shipped to the Dominican Republic's capital, where they were to finish their studies in Spanish -- as opposed to the English spoken in Trinidad. Caribbean bishops promised to reopen the seminary in 2013 with a plan to shore up finances, boost enrollment and find more resident faculty.

The seminary's closing, however, was emblematic of deeper challenges the Catholic Church faces in the Caribbean. While still the dominant religion, Catholicism's influence has been waning here.

When Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the Caribbean in March on a historic trip to Cuba, he will encounter a region in a state of religious flux and economic uncertainty. The Catholic Church's standing is being challenged by a rise in evangelicalism and a lack of indigenous clergy, as evidenced by the Trinidad seminary's closing.

Add to those hurdles the region's complex colonial history, the prevalence of Afro-Caribbean religions -- such as Haitian Voodoo and Santeria -- and widespread poverty.

"It's a challenging environment," said Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau, Bahamas, president of the Antilles Episcopal Conference. "We're talking about developing countries that are faced with post-colonial challenges ... (including) the current economic crises."

The Vatican's statistical yearbook for 2009, the most recent available, lists the Caribbean as 65 percent Catholic, ranging from a high of 88 percent in the Dominican Republic to a low of 4 percent in Barbados and Jamaica. While that percentage is among the highest for any region in the world, estimates from previous years were as high as 78 percent, signaling a precipitous fall.

The change has been most pronounced in the eastern Caribbean, especially the English-speaking Caribbean. But the Spanish-speaking countries -- Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba -- also have been affected.

In the Dominican Republic, the second-most populated country in the region, evangelical ranks have grown to tens of thousands from being relatively nonexistent 20 years ago. The exact numbers are unclear because the government's 2010 census, for the first time, did not capture religious affiliation.

But the influence of the evangelical churches is clear. Earlier this year, a group of evangelical churches successfully pressured the Dominican government to allow their ministers to legally oversee marriages, a right previously reserved for Catholic priests.

Cuba's communist regime has long taken a hard-line approach to religion, declaring itself an atheist state in 1976, although it has since redefined itself as secular. Yet, the government has allowed an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 so-called home churches to spring up, which observers saw as a nod to the growing evangelical movement.

Due to their small size and minute populations, the changes are more dramatic in the Lesser Antilles, which ring the Caribbean Sea.

"You do see the church losing members to the evangelical churches," said Carmelite Father Gerard Tang Choon, who attended the Trinidad seminary and has preached in the country for eight years.

Two decades ago, Catholics made up 32.2 percent of Trinidad's population, according to 1990 census figures. In 2010, the number fell to less than 20 percent of the country's estimated 1.2 million people.

"We've seen a surge in numbers of small (evangelical) churches in recent years," Father Tang Choon said. "A lot of Catholics who may be disenchanted ... gravitate to the liturgies" of the evangelical churches.

The factors that have led to the rise in evangelicalism are directly related to the Catholic Church's downturn, observers said.

Unlike Catholics, whose Masses are at the center of parish life, small evangelical congregations focus on pressing social issues like poverty.

"They can pray on everyday challenges; the issues that are important to them," said Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Miami and co-author of the 2010 book "Caribbean Religious History."

Leading those congregations are local residents familiar with the issues in the very communities in which they were born and raised.

"You see younger people who are coming to our churches because they are attracted to our style of worship," said Clovis St. Romain, a laymen who is director of the United Evangelical Association in Antigua and Barbuda, small islands in the eastern Caribbean. "We can relate to their issues."

St. Romain said the country has around 65 registered evangelical Christian congregations, with about 100 members each, and about 50 independent churches have sprung up in the past years. Ranks are growing by about 5 percent annually.

"It's been the past 20 or more years that you've really seen the growth," he said.

Meanwhile, Catholic churches have been forced to import priests, and there is still a shortage.

Despite Irish, French and Indian priests brought in to fill the gap, Father Tang Choon celebrates about five Masses every weekend.

"It's a stress on younger priests," he said. "And it's not an attractive lifestyle for younger people who are considering a life in the clergy."

It's also a cycle that has hurt the Catholic Church's ability to attract young people. When Father Tang Choon finished at the seminary in the early 2000s, his class size was about a dozen and made up of students from various islands.

When the seminary closed in 2010, only five students remained, he said.

Archbishop Pinder said attracting young people to the church and improving the ranks of homegrown clergy are related. The church needs to keep its message on social justice and continue its work in education and health care, he said.

The archbishop was born and raised in Nassau and promoted to archbishop in 2004. He knows, however, that his case is rare.

The lack of local clergy "is an issue that's been there for quite a while," he said. "I think the key to addressing it starts with strong Catholic families and young people."

Father Tang Choon remembers feeling a sense of validation for the Trinidad church when Pope John Paul II visited the country in 1985.

"I was 11 or so, and I remember there was a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm around the visit," he said.

Although Pope Benedict is only scheduled to visit Cuba, his trip could provide an opportunity to reclaim lost ground in the Caribbean.

"I have no doubt about the strategic nature of the pope's visit to Cuba," Gonzalez said. "It's part of the church's effort to reclaim Cuba and reclaim its stake in the Caribbean."