Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Pentecost Sunday all hell broke loose in Rome. Following Mass that day, the unpredictable Pope Francis laid hands on a demon-possessed man from Mexico and prayed for him. The YouTube video of this encounter was flashed around the world, and the story caught fire: Is Pope Francis an exorcist? The Holy Father’s Vatican handlers were quick to deny such. The pope simply offered a prayer of deliverance for the distraught man, it was said. Exorcism in the Catholic Church is a sacramental, a sacred act producing a spiritual effect, which must be done according to the officially prescribed Rite of Exorcism. And yet what the pope did on Pentecost Sunday in St. Peter’s Square was more than a simple prayer for someone to get better. It looked for all the world like a real act of spiritual warfare.

Timothy GeorgeThe scene now shifts to South America, the continent where Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born and has spent most of his life. The place: All Saints Church, in Steenrijk, Curaçao, in the Anglican Diocese of Venezuela. The date: May 12, 2013, one week before the pope’s exorcism-like event in Rome. The preacher: The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church (formerly known as ECUSA). When she was elected to her post in 2006, Father Richard John Neuhaus described it as an occasion of great sadness. His reaction reflected neither personal animus nor schadenfreudlich glee. Rather, he saw her accession to this high office as likely to deepen the pain and division within the Christian community. Sadly, he was right.

In Venezuela, Bishop Katharine also confronted a demon—the one found in her sermon text for the day, Acts 16:16-24. This is Luke’s account of Paul’s exorcism of a manic slave girl in Philippi. The bishop’s sermon was really a polemic against what she called, in postmodernist lingo, “discounting and devaluing difference.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItalySouth AmericaVenezuela* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

Posted June 3, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaVenezuela

Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bougainvillea shade the pathways at the Cementerio General del Sur, where the mausoleums of statesmen and movie stars stand next to the graves of aristocrats and thousands of commoners. Sculpted lions gaze down from sepulchers. Elegance, not anarchy, once defined this resting place.

No longer.

Now, crypts for once-feared military rulers have been ransacked. Coffins, twisted open with crowbars, lie strewn under samán trees. Cages with padlocked gates surround the burial sites of some families, as if that might protect them from a disturbing reality: not even Caracas’s city of the dead is safe.

Accompanying Venezuela’s soaring levels of murders and kidnappings, its cemeteries are the setting for a new kind of crime wave. Grave robbers are looting them for human bones, answering demand from some practitioners of a fast-growing transplanted Cuban religion called Palo that uses the bones in its ceremonies.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaVenezuela

Posted December 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran is helping to detect uranium deposits in Venezuela and initial evaluations suggest reserves are significant, President Hugo Chavez's government said Friday.

Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Iran has been assisting Venezuela with geophysical survey flights and geochemical analysis of the deposits, and that evaluations "indicate the existence of uranium in western parts of the country and in Santa Elena de Uairen," in southeastern Bolivar state.

"We could have important reserves of uranium," Sanz told reporters upon arrival on Venezuela's Margarita Island for a weekend Africa-South America summit. He added that efforts to certify the reserves could begin within the next three years.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranSouth AmericaVenezuela

Posted September 27, 2009 at 7:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Yanomami leaders are wading into a politicized debate about how officials react to health care challenges faced by the Yanomami and other Amazonian tribes. In recent interviews here, government officials contended that the Yanomami could be exaggerating their claims to win more resources from the government and undercut its authority in the Amazon.

Meanwhile, the Yanomami claims come amid growing concern in Venezuela over indigenous health care after a scandal erupted in August over a tepid official response to a mystery disease that killed 38 Warao Indians in the country's northeast.

"This government makes a big show of helping the Yanomami, but rhetoric is one thing and reality another," said Ramón González, 49, a Yanomami leader from the village of Yajanamateli who traveled recently to Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas State, to ask military officials and civilian doctors for improved health care.

"The truth is that Yanomami lives are still considered worthless," said González, who was converted to Christianity by New Tribes Mission, a Florida group expelled in 2005. "The boats, the planes, the money, it's all for the criollos, not for us," he said, using a term for nonindigenous Venezuelans.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaVenezuela

Posted October 7, 2008 at 7:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

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