- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dogs and cats are fine as pets, but don’t substitute them for family, warned Pope Francis during Mass this week.

Speaking to a group of married couples gathered for a service, Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis stressed the importance of faithfulness, dedication and fertility for a healthy Catholic marriage.

The problem, Pope Francis said, is the childless culture that has developed in the last decade, which promotes time for a couple to travel or to raise “a dog, two cats [but] the love goes to the two cats and the dog [and not children].

“Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it?” Pope Francis asked. “Then, in the end, this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

The pontiff stressed that faithfulness is like a “light” in a marriage, while a marriage without dedication cannot develop into a family.

“Married life must be persevering, because otherwise love cannot go forward,” Pope Francis said. “Persevering [means] they get up every morning, the man and the woman, and carry the family forward.”

SEE ALSO: Democrats use Pope Francis to sell EPA carbon rule


Less than two months after the Army announced that “humanist” was an officially recognized “faith code” within its ranks, the Navy rejected an application for the first humanist chaplain in its ranks.

The Religion News Service reported Wednesday that Jason Heap’s application for a commission with the Navy was recently rejected.

The details of the decision were not available, but Lt. Cmdr Chris Servello, USN special assistant for the Public Affairs Chief of Naval Personnel, said “all applications for the Chaplain Accession board were carefully reviewed in accordance with policy. Due to the highly competitive nature of the board, less than 50% of the applicants could be recommended for a commission in the United States Navy.”

Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, called the decision “discriminatory.”

In an open letter to the American Humanist Association last year, Mr. Heap said he was applying for the chaplain commission because “I want to serve my country — to give back something to the people who have given me so much over my life — and to serve others who share similar values and perspectives.”

Ron Crews, retired chaplain and executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said his organization commended the Navy’s decision to reject the application for an “atheist chaplain.”

“You can’t have an ‘atheist chaplain’ any more than you can have a ‘tiny giant’ or a ‘poor millionaire,’” he said.

Humanism, according to the American Humanist Association, is “nontheistic,” and while they “don’t mean to say there is no God instead, we say that there is no proof for the existence of God, any gods, the supernatural or an afterlife.”

In late April, Army Maj. Ray Bradley won approval to put “humanist” on his official record.


An online sex-toy company offering Muslim-friendly products announced this week it would be partnering with Europe’s largest “erotic retailer,” according to reports from the Agence France-Presse.

The deal between online store El Asira and Beate Uhse is four years in the making, said Abdelaziz Aouragh, founder of El Asira.

“The products we’re putting on the market have nothing to do with blow-up dolls or vibrators,” Mr. Aouragh told the AFP about his Amsterdam-based business. “It’s not about the sex act; it’s what’s going on around it. Our products increase the atmosphere and heighten feelings of sensuality.”

Mr. Aourgah’s company started in 2010, and the name means “Society” in Arabic. The company offers products such as oils, lotions and candles. El Asira’s site guarantees customers that its products comply with Islamic law. The AFP reported that the partnership will not be touting items that Islam forbids but are typically found in sex shops, including dildos and pornography.

Beate Uhse, founded in the mid-1940s and based in Germany, has close to 100 stores around Europe.

“We think we can learn a lot from El Asira on how to tap into the Muslim erotic market,” Beate Uhse spokeswoman Linda Blommaert told the AFP.


More than one-quarter of Americans believe the Bible is the verbatim word of God and should be taken literally, according to a new Gallup poll.

A survey of more than 1,000 people showed that 28 percent believe “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word,” and 47 percent believe the Bible is inspired by God but open to interpretation.

A similar poll in 2012 found that about 30 percent believed in the literal interpretation of the Bible.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is “ancient fables, legends, history and precepts written by man” has risen from 17 percent to 21 percent since 2012.

“Despite some evidence that Americans are becoming more detached from formal religion, the vast majority of Christians, and therefore of Americans, still view the Bible as God’s word,” the survey stated.

Meredith Somers covers issues of faith and religion. She can be reached at [email protected]

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