Pray with the world

March 6 will be the first Friday in March, meaning it will also be World Day of Prayer.

WDP is an ecumenical Christian — tradition? movement? — that is supposedly observed in more than 170 countries.

It’s simple: Women, in particular, are supposed to pray all day, knowing that their fellow Christians are doing the same. Prayers are emphasized at sunrise and sunset.

There’s no real way to know which congregations may be participating.

But here are two: Katonah United Methodist Church, 5 Bedford Road, will have a morning service at 9:30 a.m.

Antioch Baptist Church in Bedford Hills, the corner of Church and Main streets, will hold an evening service at 7 p.m.

World Day of Prayer is said to date back to the 19th century.

UPDATE: Trinity Boscobel United Methodist Church in Buchanan will host a Cortlandt Tri-Village area (meaning Buchanan, Montrose and Verplank) World Day of Prayer service on March 6 at 11:00 a.m.

Pope to Pelosi: ‘…from conception to natural death…’

Here is the Vatican’s statement regarding the pope’s 15-minute meeting today with Nancy Pelosi:

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His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

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Pelosi, in a statement from her office to the AP, said: “In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel.”

Her statement did not mention the pope’s reference to abortion.

The Vatican did not issue a photo of the meeting, as it usually does when world leaders stop by.

Have a pillow fight

Looking for a good, cheap date idea for you and your spouse?

The U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference is offering 10.

They suggest indoor picnics, being a “tourist” in your hometown and other neat ideas.

A couple of them, though, I had to read twice:

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(2) “Tech-free” night. Turn off your cell phones, computer, the TV, and the lights. See what’s left to do without electricity.

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Don’t worry. The next line was: “Sing old songs, have a pillow fight, recount stories of how you met, plan for the future.”

I’m still a tad confused by this one:

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(6) “Evening at the Ritz.” Dress up and go to the lobby of an elegant hotel. Sit in the lounge and order a drink or snack. People watch and fantasize.

ELCA moves ahead (slowly) with sexuality study

Tomorrow, a task force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will release its proposed “Social Statement on Human Sexuality.”

It’s the next step in a long, long denominational process — starting in 2001 — that’s been trying somehow, someway to deal with the Great Gay Debate.

Last year, the ELCA task force on sexuality released a draft statement that did not address the denomination’s current policy that bans “practicing” gays and lesbians from being ordained.

The document was a very broad look at the role of sexuality from a moderate Christian perspective. The intro included this:

On the matter of loving and committed same-gender relationships, after many years of study and conversation members in this church continue to hold strongly differing and conscience-bound understandings of Scripture. In discerning where God is calling us, this statement draws deeply on the historical Lutheran tradition of seeking a pastoral response to the needs of the neighbor. In seeking responsible actions that serve others, the statement recognizes various pastoral responses which are being and can be taken by congregations. The draft calls all persons to avail themselves of the means of grace and pastoral care.

Since then, the task force has been considering responses, as task forces are prone to do.

Its revised statement will be much chewed over before the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly considers the statement — and resolutions to change it — in August.

As these things go, if the statement does or does not recommend a change to church policy, it will disappoint one group — pro-gay clergy or anti-gay clergy.

If it doesn’t take a clear stand, the statement will disappoint everyone.

The ELCA has 4.8 million members.

A heavenly purpose for A-Rod

Sure enough, at the big press conference, A-Rod said that there is a greater meaning to his steriod scandal.

“God,” he said, has put him in a position to spread the word and save the children.

You knew it was coming.

You know, I’ve heard several people joke today that the Vatican did not name a new archbishop because the church did not want to compete with the A-Rod conference.

Hmmm.

‘Have them delay our heavenly dessert…’

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t heard a peep about Alec Baldwin’s visit to a Catholic church on the most recent 30 Rock.

It’s a popular show, isn’t it?

Briefly: He’s gone to church because he wants to please his girlfriend, played by Salma Hayek. But he’s antsy because the Mass is going too long and he doesn’t want to blow their Valentine’s Day reservations at a top-tier restaurant (where a $1,000 dessert awaits).

So he “adapts” the Lord’s Prayer:

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Are you a theistic evolutionist?

Yes, Darwin’s 200th birthday has passed, but the “conflict” between faith and science has not (I’m pretty sure).

I wrote my FaithBeat column Saturday about the easy-to-miss phenomenon of religious folks embracing, or at least acknowledging, the theory of evolution. Of course, we should all know that this is the case, but science-deniers and God-deniers get a disproportionate amount of attention, don’t they?

I should note that the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has a good overview on the history and current status of the Big Conflict. They even have a glossary of terms, which includes:

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Social Darwinism – A belief that Darwin’s evolutionary theory can be applied to human society and that groups of people, just like life in the wild, are subject to “survival of the fittest.” The now discredited idea influenced many social theories and movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from laissez-faire capitalism to various eugenics movements.

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Additionally, religion writer Mark Pinsky has a great story in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin about evangelical Christian scientists who embrace what he calls theistic evolution — “a God-created, billions-years-old universe.”

And some evangelicals, he writes, are embracing a form of environmentalism called — are you ready? — creation care.

Pinsky writes:

What happens in the minds of evangelical researchers who may find their religious faith and the scientific method in conflict? Some, like John Polkinghorne, a particle physicist, dismiss the question, saying, where research is concerned, there is no connection between his science and his faith. “I can’t tell the difference in research in physics done by a religious believer and that done by an atheist.” But he added, “If you see the world as a divine creation, that’s a further motive to explore its order.”

Thanks to USA TODAY’S Cathy Lynn Grossman for making me aware of Mark’s article.

No news is no news

So much for all those tips that the announcement of a new archbishop would be at 6 a.m. today.

I got up early, fed the dog in the dark, and all for nothing.

Time to check the sports scores, make coffee and work on some other things.

Dolan, Dolan, Dolan

The Dolan buzz is getting so strong that if he is not introduced tomorrow as the next archbishop of New York, I could write this:

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NEW YORK — Countless priests, media people and Catholic Church watchers of all sorts slumped in front of their computers this morning, exhaling slowly and letting out a faint moan, as they realized that the announcement of a new archbishop of New York was not to be.

After two years of trying to guess the identity of the next archbishop, some feared that they could not wait another day.

“I just want the speculation to end, however it ends,” one priest said. “Please. Just say it. Say it…”

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I wouldn’t write that. But I could.

Is tomorrow the day?

Back in 2001, I went to the Vatican for the consistory where Archbishop Egan was made a cardinal.

Yes, Gannett and other newspaper companies were doing a lot better then.

On the morning before he was made a cardinal, Egan celebrated an early morning Mass at the Pontifical North American College, the “elite” seminary for American priests-in-training. Egan had prepared for the priesthood there.

In 2001, the rector of the NAC — as the seminary is widely known — was Monsignor Timothy Dolan.

“That you came to this college – which you love and which loves you – on the eve of your consistory is a great honor for us,” Dolan said to Egan.

At the time, everyone was telling me that Dolan was a rising star in the church. I heard from several people that he could wind up in New York one day.

I wrote that Dolan “is rumored to be coming to New York in some capacity.”

Tomorrow, I may prove to have been correct (finally). Several signs point to the big announcement of the next archbishop tomorrow. We should know bright and early if this is, in fact, the case.

It seems that everyone thinks that Dolan, currently the archbishop of Milwaukee, will get the Big Job. I chatted with him briefly at the NAC and remember being impressed by his friendly demeanor. He smiles. And he looked me in the eye when we talked.

That’s not much to go on, I know. But we may know more soon.

If there’s a press conference tomorrow, I’ll do my best to get down there on time (traffic permitting. The FDR is never friendly).

Here’s a look at Dolan (from a video message promoting a capital campaign in Milwaukee):

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