This really should surprise no one. George Soros donated a million dollars to Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor.
While Americans are limited to the amount of money they can donate to a political candidate, billionaires like George Soros do whatever they want. Townhall reported:
Billionaire George Soros donated $1M to Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign just a few days after she qualified to run in March. He donated the funds through a super PAC. Soros made the donation through Democracy PAC II to One Georgia, Abrams’ leadership PAC…
…There are limits to how much an individual or business can contribute to a candidate. Leadership PACs get around those limits. They can raise as much money as they can for a candidate. This year Soros is giving his super PAC, Democracy PAC II, $125M to sway elections across the country. He is contributing to both Democrat groups and candidates in the 2022 midterm election cycle. Democracy PAC II is run by his son.
The reason this is no surprise is that Abrams is closely connected to the leaders of the Democrat Party. After she was the Georgia House Minority Leader she landed a position on creepy John Podesta’s Center for American Progress in 2018.
Abrams was heavily involved in the 2020 Election. She made a lot of money the past couple of years, too.
Pope Francis has said that he is looking forward to visiting South Sudan this summer together with the archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the Church of Scotland in a “pilgrimage of peace.”
In a joint-statement published by the Vatican on May 7, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace, joined the pope in urging leaders in South Sudan to follow the “way of forgiveness and freedom.”
“In this Easter season, we write to share with you our joy as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who shows us that a new way is possible: a way of forgiveness and freedom, which enables us humbly to see God in each other, even in our enemies,” the statement said.
“This path leads to new life, both for us as individuals and for those we lead. It is our prayer that you will embrace afresh this way, in order to discern new avenues amid the challenges and struggles at this time. We pray too that your people will experience the hope of Easter through your leadership. In anticipation of our Pilgrimage of Peace this coming summer, we look forward to visiting your great country.”
Pope Francis is currently scheduled to travel to South Sudan’s capital city of Juba from July 5-7, following a July 2-5 visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If the trip takes place, Pope Francis will become the first pope to visit South Sudan, which became the world’s newest country when it declared independence from the Republic of the Sudan on July 9, 2011.
The nation in east-central Africa has a population of 11 million people, around 37% of whom are Catholic.
In 2019, Pope Francis brought South Sudanese leaders together at the Vatican for a “spiritual retreat” aimed at resolving their differences.
The joint statement from Pope Francis, Welby, and Wallace was published at a time when the pope is using a wheelchair due to a torn ligament in his right knee. The 85-year-old pope has canceled his engagements on multiple occasions in recent weeks due to knee pain.
A previously scheduled papal trip to South Sudan with Welby was canceled in 2017 due to security concerns.
Recent convert Steve Dow and his wife, Amanda, pose for a photo with Deacon M.J. Kersenbrock, left, and Father Bernard Starman after the Easter Vigil April 16, 2022 at St. Patrick Church in O’Neill, Nebraska. | Courtesy of the Dow family
What would drive a Protestant minister to give up his ministry, to wander in spiritual darkness for a time and eventually follow God’s call in a new direction?
For Steve Dow, it was the truths of the Catholic faith that, despite his best efforts, he ultimately couldn’t ignore.
Eventually stepping out in faith and trust in the Lord, he responded to God’s call and was finally welcomed into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil, April 16 at St. Patrick Church in O’Neill, Nebraska.
“Like any non-Catholic, especially a minister, it’s a jump into the unknown,” said Father Ross Burkhalter, senior associate pastor of St. Patrick, who helped lead the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes Dow attended.
But Dow was willing to step away from the path he was on and explore with openness what the Church actually teaches, said Father Burkhalter, who also serves Nebraska parishes St. Joseph in Amelia, Sacred Heart in Boyd County, St. Boniface in Stuart and St. Joseph in Atkinson.
As a minister in the Wesleyan Church, which has historic ties to the Methodist Church, Dow’s journey to the Catholic faith began several years ago when he started viewing programs on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network – a Catholic television network), mostly out of curiosity, he said.
“I started realizing that a lot of the things that I’ve heard about and thought were crazy (about the Catholic faith), there’s actually good reasons for some of the things these Catholics believe and practice, and I kind of felt drawn towards it.
“At the same time I’m thinking, ‘I’m a Protestant minister. If I pursue this direction, I lose my ministry. I lose my source of income. How will I provide for my family?’”
So, he had to shut out those influences, and in doing so, he said, “I was cutting myself off from God and the direction that he was leading me.”
“I found myself questioning everything, questioning my faith, questioning God’s existence. I’d become more of an atheist, so for integrity’s sake, I had to leave the ministry,” he said.
That was 2013, and for the next eight years, although sometimes dabbling in the teachings of various denominations and attending their services, Dow mostly lived in a state of spiritual darkness.
“I started feeling spiritually dead inside,” Dow said.
After leaving the ministry, Dow worked for a time with his father on the family farm near Orchard, Nebraska, and joined NorthStar Services in O’Neill, an agency providing support services to people with developmental disabilities.
But his wife, Amanda, herself a former Catholic, found the transition difficult.
The couple, who met and married during Bible college, had gone straight into ministry after graduation, Dow said.
“So that was kind of all we’d known,” he said. “It was very hard on her, very hard on our marriage. She continued to believe and continued to go to church some, but with me not going and supporting it, it was hard on her.”
Ukrainian forces may soon force Russian troops out of artillery range of Kharkiv, according to an assessment that says the fight in the Donbass region is entering a decisive phase.
U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Friday that over the previous 24 hours, Ukrainian forces had captured several settlements north east of Ukraine’s second largest city in an operation which has developed into a “successful, broader counteroffensive.”
It said that Ukrainian forces are “notably retaking territory along a broad arc around Kharkiv rather than focusing on a narrow thrust” and this showed they were able to launch larger-scale offensive operations than they have been previously able to.
Ukraine’s forces “may successfully push Russian forces out of artillery range of Kharkiv in the coming days,” the ISW said, adding they may be able to “relieve Russian pressure on Kharkiv and possibly threaten to make further advances to the Russian border.”
It comes as the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russian forces have started to blow up bridges to slow a Ukrainian offensive in the the area of Tsyrkuny and Rusky Tyshky east of Kharkiv.
“Russian occupiers blew up three road bridges in order to slow down the counter-offensive actions of the Defense Forces of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s military said in its update on Facebook, although this has not been independently verified. Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment.
“It will take considerable time and expense for Russia to reconstitute its armed forces following this conflict,” British defense officials said, referring to sanctions which will hamper Russia’s access to microelectronic components.
Meanwhile, rescuers were looking to evacuate more civilians from Mariupol’s Azovstal plant where dozens of people, including children, remain trapped underground.
Russian officials and Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the evacuation efforts would continue into the weekend, the Associated Press reported. Several dozen people were handed over to the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday.
The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers trapped at the steelworks is unknown. Russia has repeatedly said that they can only leave if they lay down their arms.
Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelensky described the Russian military’s conduct in Mariupol as “inhuman.”
Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Church of Scotland Moderator send their Easter greetings to South Sudan’s political leaders inviting them to go forward on a path of forgiveness and freedom.
By Linda Bordoni
In a joint message celebrating the Easter season, Pope Francis, Archbishop Justin Welby, and Reverend Jim Wallace invite South Sudan’s leaders to work for reconciliation and a future of peace and fraternity.
The Pope is scheduled to travel to South Sudan in July together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, in the person of Reverend Dr. Iain M. Greenshields who will succeed Reverend Jim Wallace in May.
“In this Easter season, we write to share with you our joy as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who shows us that a new way is possible.”
“A way of forgiveness and freedom, which enables us humbly to see God in each other, even in our enemies.”
This path leads to new life, the message continues “both for us as individuals and for those we lead.”
It is our prayer, the leaders say, “that you will embrace afresh this way, in order to discern new avenues amid the challenges and struggles at this time.”
“We pray too that your people will experience the hope of Easter through your leadership.”
Concluding, they say that in anticipation of their Pilgrimage of Peace this coming summer, they look forward to visiting South Sudan.
Official logo of the Pope’s pilgrimage to South Sudan
The world’s youngest country
The Republic of South Sudan is the world’s newest country, having gained its independence from Sudan in July 2011.
Since independence, however, the country has struggled to set up a viable governing system and has been faced with a variety of challenges, including political conflicts, corruption, and communal violence.
In 2013, conflict erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and forces loyal to Vice-president Riek Machar. The fighting quickly spread throughout the country and unfolded along ethnic lines, killing tens of thousands of people and creating a humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and in need of assistance.
There have been a series of peace agreements resulting in the formation of a coalition government in 2020, but the country continues to struggle to overcome the hurdles that come with implementing that agreement that has not been fully implemented because there continues to be enmity between the parties involved.
Pope Francis has repeatedly called for reconciliation between warring South Sudanese parties, and in April 2019 he hosted South Sudanese leaders in a two-day spiritual retreat in the Vatican, during which he urged them to strengthen the country’s faltering peace process.
Juba residents celebrate independence on 9 July 2011
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday defended judicial independence, arguing that government institutions mustn’t allow themselves to be strong-armed into delivering outcomes that people demand, according to news outlets.
Thomas made the remarks at a May 6 judicial conference in Atlanta, where he was asked by a moderator to discuss the biggest threats to judicial independence, according to Law360.
In his response, Thomas decried what he described as an erosion of respect for the high court and made an apparent reference to protests that erupted after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, with major implications for access to abortion.
He said that as a society, “we are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don’t like,” according to Reuters.
“We can’t be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want. The events from earlier this week are a symptom of that,” he added.
A flurry of protests and counter-protests broke out outside the Supreme Court after Politico obtained and published the draft opinion that would uphold a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
In a bid to prevent violence, police have now surrounded the Supreme Court with a set of 9-foot high metal barricades, with an officer telling an Epoch Times reporter that the move was “just in case.”
Speaking at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, a gathering of lawyers and judges, Thomas referred several times to the “unfortunate events” of the past week, bemoaning declining respect for institutions and the rule of law.
“It bodes ill for a free society,” he said, according to The Washington Post. It can’t be that institutions “give you only the outcome you want, or can be bullied” into submission.
Thomas also expressed concern about a “different attitude of the young” towards respect for institutions and the law, suggesting this is on the decline relative to past generations, as cited by the outlet.
The Supreme Court has confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion but called it preliminary.
The original texts of the documents we have come to know as the New Testament were written by Christ-following Jews (in the ancient sense of the word) in a language that can best be described not simply as Koine (or Common) Greek, but as “Koine Judeo-Greek.”
First of all, what is Koine Greek? Koine Greek (which is different from Classical Greek) was the common, multi-regional form of Greek spoken and written during the Hellenistic and Roman periods of antiquity. However, I do not think that the language we see in the New Testament can be described ONLY as Koine Greek. There are elements of the Koine Greek used in the New Testament that emphasize its significant connection to Hebrew and first-century Jewish culture. I prefer to call it “Judeo-Greek” (or Koine Judeo-Greek).
What is Judeo-Greek? Judeo Greek is simply a specialized form of Greek used by Jews to communicate. This form of Greek retained many words, phrases, grammatical structures, and patterns of thought characteristic of the Hebrew language. We have similar examples in other languages: the well-known Judeo-German (Yiddish), Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), and the less familiar Judeo-Farsi, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Italian, and Judean-Georgian languages.
So is Judeo-Greek really Greek? Yes, but it is Greek that inherited the patterns of Semitic thought and expression. In this way, it differs from the forms of Greek used by other people groups.
I disagree that the New Testament was first written in Hebrew and then later translated into Greek. Instead, I think it was written in Greek by people who thought “Jewishly.” More importantly, the authors of the New Testament thought multi-lingually. People who speak a variety of languages also manage to think in a variety of languages. When they do speak, however, they regularly import into that language something that comes from another. It is never a question of “if,” but only of “how much.”
We must remember that the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible (commonly called the Septuagint) was translated into Greek by leading Jewish scholars of the day. Legend has it that each of the 70 individual Jewish sages made separate translations of the Hebrew Bible and when they were completed, all of them matched perfectly. As I said, it is a legend! The number 70 is likely symbolic of the 70 nations of the world in ancient Judaism.
This translation was not only meant for Greek-speaking Jews, but also for non-Jews, so that they too could have access to the Hebrew Bible. You can imagine how many Hebraic words, phrases, and patterns of thought are present on every page of the Septuagint, even though it is written in Greek.
So aside from the authors of the New Testament thinking Jewishly and Hebraically, we also have the majority of their Old Testament quotations coming from another Jewish-authored, Greek-language document – the Septuagint. Is it surprising that the New Testament is full of Hebraic forms expressed in Greek?!
As a side note, the use of the Septuagint by New Testament writers is actually a very exciting concept. The Jewish text of the Hebrew Bible used today is the Masoretic Text (MT for short). When the Dead Sea Scrolls were finally examined, it turned out that there was not one, but three different families of Biblical traditions in the time of Jesus.
One of them closely matched the Masoretic text, one closely matched the Septuagint, and one seems to have connections with the Samaritan Torah. Among other things, this indicates that the Septuagint quoted by the New Testament has great value, since it was based upon a Hebrew text that is at least as old as the original base text of the (later) Masoretic Text (MT).
On Friday, May 6, a federal appeals court granted Florida’s request to reinstate portions of the state’s election laws, struck down by a district court judge who ruled the measures unconstitutional and discriminatory.
On May 1, 2021, the Republican-controlled state Senate approved SB 90 (pdf), which overhauled Florida election law ahead of the 2022 midterm elections and 2024 presidential election. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law May 6, 2021, with immediate effect, strengthening voting rules in the state and establishing the nation’s first Office of Election Crimes and Security at the Department of State.
The law requires vote-by-mail ballot signatures to match the most recent signature on file to be counted. The measure also dictates that political parties and candidates cannot be shut out from observing the signature matching process.
The court also dealt a massive blow to the lower court’s claim that the law was attempting to suppress the black vote.
The ruling also took issue with Walker’s scathing finding that the legislation, championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers, was part of a pattern of Black voter suppression. Walker took the extraordinary step of putting Florida under federal supervision for future voting laws that deal with certain topics.
The district judge “failed to properly account for what might be called the presumption of legislative good faith” in his analysis, the appellate court said.
“For starters, in its 288-page opinion, the district court never once mentioned the presumption,” the ruling says. “And while we do not require courts to incant magic words, it does not appear to us that the district court here meaningfully accounted for the presumption at all.”
During this Easter season, we rejoice in our faith with even greater confidence than normal. The Lord is truly risen! But many skeptics wonder whether this is a historical fact or a legend of religion. What evidence is there?
In addition to the empty tomb, the profound testimony of the apostles and disciples who appeared to the Lord points to the truth of his Resurrection. They preached about it everywhere and their witness was recorded in Sacred Scripture. Moreover, by their extreme devotion and martyrdom we know their testimony is trustworthy.
But to help curb any remaining doubt, and to remind us believers throughout the millennia that Jesus really is human, God has given us the Shroud of Turin. Since as early as 500 AD, the Shroud has been believed by many to be the linen burial cloth Jesus was wrapped in.
In 1898, Secundo Pia took a photograph of the Shroud and when he was developing the picture he discovered that what appeared as faint brown marks figuring a man could be seen in clear detail in photo-negative. The Shroud undoubtedly has the image of a man on it, but how do we know it is Jesus?
The most glaring point is that given the blood marks, the man died from crucifixion, has a significant wound on the side, and was scourged severely. Moreover, the blood type is AB which matches all known Eucharistic miracles.
What is also amazing about the Shroud of Turin is that it seems impossible to fully replicate with paint, especially centuries ago. The way the image is on the fibers is as if it is scorched from an extremely bright light or thermo-nuclear radiation. It’s as if at the moment of the resurrection Jesus radiated immensely bright light!…
What about the time and location of the cloth? The pollen and cotton fibers indicate the cloth comes from the Middle East. Moreover, on one eyelid there can faintly be seen four letters that correspond to the coins used in AD 29 and the ancient Jewish tradition of keeping the eyelids closed with coins.
The biggest controversy surrounds the carbon dating of the cloth, but many scientists have given incredibly sound counter-arguments to claims the cloth comes from the 14th century. For more details, check out this article here.
As amazing as the science is behind the Shroud, the message is far simpler and more beautiful. Jesus of Nazareth really was crucified and rose from the dead! He is real! He is human! And he is alive today!
“This Jesus God raised up, and that we all are witnesses. Being therefore, exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.” – Acts 2:32-33
Few, if any, aspire to writing obituaries, a dead-end job for sure. When, 25 years ago, I was asked to perform this service for the deceased members of our Mercy community, I agreed to give it a try. My hesitancy was born of the fact that my life ministry in health care did not seem to prepare me for such a solemn task. Now, approximately 125 obituaries later, I gratefully acknowledge this as a life-enriching experience.
The first thing I received on my assignment was the factual unfolding of each sister’s life on an index card: date of birth, parents’ names, entrance into community life and ministerial assignments. But surely there was more. Who really knew her? What did she enjoy? Singing? Reading? Cooking? Travel? What were her successes? Her disappointments? What can we learn from her? What can I say that will give a glimpse of her soul? A treasure hunt of conversations, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, diplomas, awards and sometimes small items she enjoyed to be treasured by those who would follow. Then, weaving the remnants of her life would result in a unique tapestry to be treasured by all who would follow.
Now the richness of the numerous obituaries I wrote during those 25 years lies is encased in the community’s archives and I pause to remember the life-giving spirits of these dedicated women. Let me share with you a reflection on several who are symbols of the love and inspiration I knew in recording their lives.
When a sister I’ll call Mary Rose died, I could write of her as a nurse who quietly spent her life in health care ministry. She was pleasant, unassuming and patient as she cared for the sick in several Mercy hospitals, usually in charge of a nursing unit, pleased she could be of comfort.
But few knew her well. Some recalled that she learned to play a concertina and would occasionally bring it to community gatherings for a little singalong. We also discovered a number of poems she had written, some of them published by the Iowa Poetry Association. She wrote of clouds and sunshine, of faraway places, of dreams. These glimpses of a treasured life, of seeing beauty in small places live on.
A community member I’ll call Sr. Mary Alexis enjoyed dancing and brought love and life wherever she went. Who could resist her smile, her enthusiasm? Why did she die so young? We would have enjoyed her beautiful spirit many more days. Glimpses of her joy lighten our hearts.
Sr. Mary Noreen spent about 50 years as a primary grade school teacher. She always remained young at heart. Her classroom radiated warmth and creativity, was always attractive with brightly colored bulletin boards, a fish tank, games to play when weather would not allow for outdoor recess.
When she died at 95, few of her contemporaries survived, but hundreds of men and women who learned to read and write, add and subtract remembered this little woman who made learning an adventure. To experience the wonder in a child who discovers the joy of reading, the pride of parents when their children really enjoyed school, the knowledge that these little people would build on a solid foundation of the faith and learning experienced here. These were her soul treasures. And ours.
There was an abundance of material from which to write about Sr. Jean Marie, a woman so gifted that someone remarked she could have managed General Motors. She did, indeed, have leadership skills that matched and often surpassed those of her male counterparts. Her ministry incorporated moving in prestigious circles, endless board meetings, difficult decisions and countless miles of national and international travel.
Yet it was not her marvelous accomplishments that made her a beloved community member. She enjoyed simple pleasures such as playing cards or going on a picnic and was reluctant to share some of her exciting travel experiences lest others think she was enjoying privileges they would not have. She once commented to a friend that it was often “lonely at the top.” Retirement years, however, gave her the opportunity to be with her sisters and enjoy just being herself. Why do we not really get to know each other, regardless of the positions we hold? And why do we wait so long?
We rejoice and we regret as we learn from these women and their companions who inspire us and give us courage for today. They came from cities, small towns and farms; they did not know each other when they came, but they shared a common mission and provided education, health care and social services to countless people in need. Their goodness keeps them alive in our hearts and brings light to our lives.
Writing obituaries was not a dead-end experience for me; it brought to life a long dormant joy of writing. And looking into the souls of these women inspired me to be like them. As I pass obituary writing on to others, I can only imagine how mine will read. At 94, that may not be far away. In the meantime, I will continue to joyfully observe, write and rewrite, for one never knows what is to come.