- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2010

Euro scandal

“The latest and most salient crisis is now taking place in Germany, where allegations of abuse have surfaced this year for the first time. At least 300 cases of abuse have emerged, and elite Jesuit boarding schools across the country have been accused of mistreating pupils. Eighteen of the 27 German archdioceses are now being investigated for child abuse while the German Justice Ministry says that Vatican secrecy has hampered investigations for the past decade.

“Such explosive accusations are a direct attack on Pope Benedict himself, who has been criticized for sending a confidential letter in 2001 to every Roman Catholic bishop, advising them to keep allegations of sexual abuse secret for at least 10 years. The letter went on to say that investigations into abuses would be done internally. The German cases have been particularly dangerous for the pope, who was the bishop of Munich from 1977 to 1981. Already he has been accused of allowing a priest who was a known molester to continue serving. …

“[T]he Vatican has responded defensively, denying the so-called ‘wall of silence,’ and accusing the international press of an aggressive campaign to smear the pope - a tactic that will not play out well with an already-boiling European public that has been looking for him to personally speak out.”

- Kayvan Farzaneh, writing on “The List: The Catholic Church’s Latest Abuse Scandals,” on March 16 at Foreign Policy

Jewish community

“It takes time and considerable effort to transmit a strong identification with the Jewish religion and people; to nurture a facility in the different registers of the Hebrew language: biblical, rabbinic, and modern; to teach young Jews the classical texts of their civilization; to expose them to Jewish music, dance, and art; and to socialize them to live as Jews. …

“Ample research has limned the association between the number of ‘contact hours’ young people spend in Jewish educational settings and their later levels of engagement. Simply put, ‘more’ makes a significant difference. It is not hard to find adult alumni of day schools, summer camps, and Israel programs who attest to the formative impact of their experiences. Not surprisingly, many parents committed to Jewish life want their children to enjoy the same benefits.

“Families recognize that they can no longer rely upon institutions that once had been central to the socialization of young Jews: most Jewish parents have neither the time nor, in many cases, the knowledge to transmit Jewish learning to their children; extended families are now widely dispersed, so they cannot play an active role; and few Jews reside any longer in densely populated Jewish neighborhoods, where in years past Jewish mores and customs were internalized through osmosis.”

- Jack Wertheimer, writing on “The High Cost of Jewish Living,” in the March issue of Commentary

Christian community

“In the recent past, the Christian community was ambivalent about sports. As long as athletes used their athletic accomplishments as a springboard to missions - think C.T. Studd (from cricket to China missions), Billy Sunday (from baseball to revival ministry), and Eric Liddell (track & field to China missions) - all was well. But to dedicate your life to athletic excellence, especially to professional sports - well, it was bad stewardship at best, and likely to be censured as downright worldly.

“In case you haven’t noticed, all that has changed … Christians have embraced sports with no little enthusiasm. Christian parents enroll their children - boys and girls alike now - in youth leagues and enthusiastically follow them in traveling teams, even if that takes them away on weekends, and thus from Sunday morning worship in their home church. Churches have sports ministries and banquets featuring Christian superstars who wax eloquent about how God helped them who helped themselves. …

“What about Sabbath issues, long a major stumbling block for Christians? Well, Eric Liddell’s qualms about running on Sunday now seem quaint. Every professional football team has Christian chaplains who hold pre-game services for players still committed to Sunday worship (if not to Sabbath rest). And when it comes to the Big Event of the Year, churches no longer complain about the Super Bowl depleting Sunday night services. Now the services are scheduled so as to not conflict with the Super Bowl, and some churches even hold Super Bowl parties (as an outreach event, of course).”

- Mark Galli, writing on “And God Created Football” in the January-February issue of Christianity Today’s Books and Culture magazine

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