Ancient Roman women priests-controversy catacomb on the Internet

Fresco inside the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, said to depict woman priest. Photo credit: AP/Gregorio Borgia


Do These Ancient Paintings Prove There Were Female Priests in the Early Church?

Nov. 20, 2013 11:46am, Billy Hallowell

New questions are emerging about the role of women in the early Christian church after the Vatican this week unveiled recently restored frescoes in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome.

Some say the paintings depict women serving as priests during Christianity’s beginning centuries — a contention the Vatican is calling the stuff of “fairy tales.”

Two scenes inside the catacombs, in particular, are capturing attention.

In one, a group of women are seen celebrating what is believed to be the Eucharist. Another shows a woman in a garment that resembles a robe with her hands lifted up in a position that is generally used by priests during public worship, The Associated Press reported.

The paintings are being used as evidence by some individuals and groups that women once served as priests and that they should once again be allowed to do so within the confines of the Catholic Church.

While the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a group that ordains and argues for female priests, believes this is the case, others aren’t so certain. …

Reuters reported that the Catacombs of Priscilla – underground burial chambers that stretch eight miles – were built as burial grounds between the second and fifth centuries.

The catacombs have been reopened to the public after a five-year restoration project. For those who cannot make it to Rome to see the site can explore it from home using Google Maps.

Debate over the Catholic Church’s restrictions on female faith leaders continues as the Vatican’s policy of only allowing male priests remains in place.

United States evangelical Christians against war on Syria

This video is called Bolivians Protest US Strike On Syria.

From Christianity Today in the USA:

Should U.S. Bomb Syria? Evangelical Leaders Take Surprising Vote

National Association of Evangelicals finds out where its members stand.

Jeremy Weber [ posted 9/5/2013 02:27PM]

As Congress debates whether or not America’s military should intervene in Syria after chemical weapons killed nearly 1,500 people, a survey of evangelical leaders nationwide reveals how they would vote.

On Tuesday, the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 45,000 churches from 40 denominations, asked its board members: “Should Congress authorize direct U.S. military intervention in Syria?”

The result: 62.5 percent said no, while 37.5 percent said yes.

“I was surprised because I expected the answers would be the other way around,” writes NAE president Leith Anderson in announcing the survey results (first to Religion News Service).

He acknowledges the broad agreement on “serious consequences” for the use of chemical weapons, but also notes, “Christians in Syria have been victims during the past two years of civil war. We don’t want to make their lives worse.”

Geoff Tunnicliffe, leader of the World Evangelical Alliance, also spoke out against American military intervention yesterday during a conference of Christian leaders being held in neighboring Jordan.

“There is a major consensus amongst the Christian leaders in this region that any military intervention by the United States will have a detrimental effect on the situation and in particular for Christians in Syria,” Tunnicliffe wrote to the White House and the United Nations. “Christians have already been threatened in Syria by some of the opposition indicating that a post regime Syria will be Muslim and Christians will not be welcome.”

Religion News Service reports on the Jordan conference. Meanwhile, CNN explains how Syria “became a religious war.”

CT has previously reported on Syria as well as just-war theory, especially related to debate over the Iraq War and how it called for some “serious rethinking” by Christians.

[US Congresswoman] Barbara Lee says more diplomacy needed in Syrian matters: here.

Nearly 5000 sign “petition” with teeth: Tell Congress – Vote for war – we’ll show you the door! #Peace Voter Pledge: here.

Martin Luther writings, new discovery

Lucas Cranach (the Elder), Martin Luther, 1532. Oil on panel (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Monday 19 Aug 2013, 18:23

In a library in Wolfenbüttel [in Germany] hitherto unknown notes by the church reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) have been found. The comments by Luther are in the margin of a chronicle and a Latin poem, with other works bound together in one volume.

The comments are from the time when Luther studied in Erfurt (1501-1505). Thus they are among the oldest known texts by him. These are notes on the texts, such as about difficult Latin words and about Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia.


The discoverer of the notes, the Heidelberg theologian Ulrich Bubenheimer, says there is no doubt that the notes are by Luther because his handwriting is known from numerous later texts.

Luther became a monk after his studies in Erfurt. In 1517 he wrote 95 theses against the abuses in the church, such as the trade in indulgences – papers which, according to the church, could shorten the faithful’s sentences in purgatory after their deaths. With his theses Luther was at the beginning of the Reformation, after which Christendom was torn in two.

See also here. And here. And here.

Anti-war atheist told US citizenship for Christians only

This video from the USA is called Margaret Doughty, Atheist Seeking U.S. Citizenship, Told To Join Church Or Else.

From Nick Wing’s blog in the USA:

Margaret Doughty, Atheist Seeking U.S. Citizenship, Told To Join Church Or Be Denied

06/20/2013 10:44 am EDT

Margaret Doughty, an atheist and permanent U.S. resident for more than 30 years, was told by immigration authorities this month that she has until Friday to officially join a church that forbids violence or her application for naturalized citizenship will be rejected.

Doughty received the ultimatum after stating on her application that she objected to the pledge to bear arms in defense of the nation due to her moral opposition to war. According to a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by the American Humanist Association on Doughty’s behalf, officials responded by telling her that she needed to prove that her status as a conscientious objector was due to religious beliefs. They reportedly told her she’d need to document that she was “a member in good standing” of a nonviolent religious organization or be denied citizenship at her June 21 hearing. A note “on official church stationary [sic]” would suffice, they said.

Here’s how Doughty explained her refusal to sign the pledge:

“I am sure the law would never require a 64 year-old woman like myself to bear arms, but if I am required to answer this question, I cannot lie. I must be honest. The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms. I deeply and sincerely believe that it is not moral or ethical to take another person’s life, and my lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me a duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up arms … my beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God … I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.”

Doughty’s reasoning is perfectly valid, atheist groups have argued in response to the rejection threat. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Citizenship and Immigration Services, calling the government request “illegal and unconstitutional.”

“It is shocking that USCIS officers would not be aware that a nonreligious yet deeply held belief would be sufficient to attain this exemption,” Andrew L. Seidel, a staff attorney at Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote after laying out a list of Supreme Court tests that suggest a rejection would be unusual and improper. “This is a longstanding part of our law and every USCIS officer should receive training on this exemption … Either the officers in Houston are inept, or they are deliberately discriminating against nonreligious applicants for naturalization.”

The American Humanist Association later followed suit, urging the agency to back down or face litigation.

A petition supporting Doughty’s quest for citizenship has also been launched at Daily Kos. As Raw Story reports, Doughty took to Facebook this week to thank people for their support.

“Over the past two days not only good friends but people I don’t even know have sent notes of support,” she wrote. “They are people with a wide range of beliefs, beliefs that I respect — Christians, Moslems, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics and others. I think that is part of what has always appealed to me about America -– that people of all beliefs can live together accepting and respecting each other and working together for the common good.”

Anglican bishop on equal marriage and slavery

This video says about itself:

On January 30, 2003, Belgium became the second country to open marriage to same-sex couples. It is not a separate regime or process. Gays and lesbian couples share in the same marriage legislation as opposite-sex couples.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

‘Opposing gay marriage like supporting slavery’

Friday 31 May 2013

Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam likened opponents of gay marriage to Christians who used the Bible to support slavery yesterday.

The senior Anglican pointed out that the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa had also supported apartheid thanks to its reading of the Bible.

“Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience,” he wrote in a letter to the Telegraph.

“No-one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The biblical texts have not changed – our interpretation has.”

He said attitudes towards homosexuality had changed considerably over the last 50 years and thought legalising same-sex marriage would provide a “very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage.”

MPs have voted to legalise same-sex marriage, but it is likely to face stiff opposition in the Lords next week.

A Gay Mayor in France Sees Good Banish Hate: here.