CULTURE DIGEST: Catholic leader warns against homosexuals in seminary; Dembski examines human origins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, the man in charge of a Vatican-ordered review of Catholic seminaries in the United States, says it is best for the schools to prohibit the enrollment of homosexual students.

“There are some priests, I don’t think there are many, some ordained people with same-sex attractions and they’ve done very well [remaining celibate],” O’Brien told the Associated Press. “But generally speaking, in my experience, the pressures are strong in an all-male atmosphere. And if there have been past failings, the church really must stay on the safe side. ... The same-sex attractions have gotten us into some legal problems.”

The archbishop also told the National Catholic Register that “anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary,” the AP reported.

Estimates of the number of homosexuals currently enrolled in Catholic seminaries vary from 25 percent to more than half, AP reported, and several Catholic leaders have said heterosexuals often feel alienated in the seminaries and many subsequently drop out.

The evaluation of the seminaries was requested three years ago in response to the priest sex abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church, and many observers are awaiting a statement from the Vatican on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood, AP said Sept. 12.

INTELLIGENCE ‘INDISPENSABLE’ IN HUMAN ORIGINS -- William Dembski, a leading Intelligent Design proponent, argues in a new paper that “an evolutionary process unguided by intelligence cannot adequately account for the remarkable intellectual and moral qualities that we see exhibited among humans.”

Dembski’s paper, “Reflections on Human Origins,” was published in the July issue of “Progress in Complexity, Information and Design,” the journal of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design, which seeks to retrain the scientific imagination to see purpose in nature.

The society provides a forum for formulating, testing and disseminating research on complex systems such as Intelligent Design through critique, peer review and publication.

“The evolutionary literature treats the evolution of humans from ape ancestors as overwhelmingly confirmed,” Dembski wrote in the abstract of his paper. “Moreover, this literature defines evolution as an inherently material process without any guidance by an underlying intelligence. This paper reviews the main lines of evidence used to confirm such a materialist view of human evolution and finds them inadequate....

“The bottom line is that intelligence has played an indispensable role in human origins,” he wrote.

Dembski, the Carl F.H. Henry Professor of Science and Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is the general editor for the journal.

To read the paper on human origins, visit www.iscid.org.

KAIROS JOURNAL HONORS ANGLICAN BISHOPS -- Kairos Journal, which seeks to equip church leaders as they engage the culture for Christ and has several leading Southern Baptists on its editorial team, has honored four Anglican archbishops for their part in standing against the theological erosion that plagues the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

“The Kairos Journal Award is given to individuals who demonstrate exemplary fidelity to the authority of Scripture and exceptional pastoral courage in their efforts to restore the prophetic voice of the church,” Emmanuel A. Kampouris, the journal’s publisher, said Sept. 8 in New York City.

The four archbishops were chosen based upon their discernment of, and response to, what the journal calls the “kairos moment” -- a moment of cultural crisis demanding timely action from the church, according to a Sept. 9 news release from the American Anglican Council.

The Kairos honorees are Peter Jasper Akinola, archbishop of Nigeria; Henry Luke Orombi, archbishop of Uganda; Gregory James Venables, archbishop of the southern cone of South America; and Datuk Yong Ping Chung, archbishop of South East Asia.

Anglican delegates from Africa, Asia and Latin America, often called the Global South, have stood strong against the antics of the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Anglicans, which have included the acceptance of homosexual ordinations and blessings for same-sex unions.

“What affects one part of the Christian church affects us all,” Kampouris said. “We hope this award will offer encouragement and support not only of our four honorees and others within the Anglican Communion fighting for orthodoxy but also for clergy across denominational lines who are striving to transform the moral conscience of our culture.”

For more information about Kairos Journal, visit www.kairosjournal.org.

BARNA: TECHNOLOGY TRANSFORMING MINISTRY -- During the past five years, the use of websites, large-screen projection systems, e-mail blasts and video dramas has transformed the ministry efforts of most churches, a new study by The Barna Group has found.

Nearly six out of 10 Protestant churches now have a website, which is an increase of 68 percent since 2000, the survey found.

More than six out of 10 churches currently use a large-screen projection system in their communications, the study said, which represents a 59 percent increase since 2000 when only 39 percent utilized such technology. The introduction of LCD projectors in congregations has increased twice as fast in mainline churches as in charismatic groups, Barna said.

Many churches have started using e-mail blasts to communicate with their members during the week, sending periodic messages that provide pertinent information that recipients can access at their convenience. Just five years ago, too few church members had access to the Internet, but now 56 percent of churches use e-mail to transmit news to people.

Barna reported that the uniqueness of using live drama and video segments in church services has “clearly worn off,” as 61 percent of churches regularly integrate video content into their worship services and 62 percent use live drama presentations in services. Among mega-churches -- those with 1,000 or more in attendance -- more than nine out of 10 churches use both video and drama. “As church staff and congregational leaders become more comfortable with and dependent upon new technologies for communication, they are expecting their church to stay relevant in its capacity to convey messages in ways that are common in our culture,” George Barna said in a Sept. 13 news release. “Some seminaries are offering courses and even degrees in the media for ministry, and increasing numbers of churches are creating staff positions for technology specialists.

“The discovery that a majority of small churches have either a website or a big-screen projection system to facilitate their ministry shows that new technology applications are now considered to be required tools for effective ministry in the third millennium,” he added.


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