By Orissa Arend  

Orissa Arend

Orissa Arend

In the first chapter of what I would describe as a practical, prophetic guidebook to the Kingdom of Heaven, Joe Barndt reminds us that “our sisterhood and brotherhood in the family of God is imprinted in our hearts, minds, and souls. It is part of our spiritual DNA. We did not choose it and we cannot choose to undo it. We may love it, we may hate it, we may protest it, or we may ignore it. But the truth is, regardless of our color – red, brown, yellow, black, or white – we are all in the family for good.”

"Becoming an Anti-Racist Church: Journeying Toward Wholness" by Joseph Brandtt

“Becoming an Anti-Racist Church: Journeying Toward Wholness” by Joseph Brandtt

Over a decade ago Barndt, a Lutheran pastor, experienced teacher and organizer, came to my church, Trinity Episcopal, in his role as director of Crossroads Ministries with his team of multi-racial trainers to teach us to be anti-racist Christian organizers. Barndt stresses that he learned to understand racism from people of color. He had to unlearn the lies that he had learned about racism from white people. He sees his responsibility as taking a true analysis of racism to white people to help them heal and change.

Our church was large and powerful with affluent, well-connected parishioners almost all of whom were white. Despite our considerable commitment of money, time and energy for new learning and new relationships, and the formation of a continuously functioning anti-racist team called TURN (Trinity Undoing Racism Network), our church looks pretty much the way it did then. It is wealthy, privileged, and white, enfolding not so much the down and out as the up and about. Why has there not been more of a visible and substantial change in the last decade? Barndt’s book is a right-on-time answer to that question. Read More…

By Michael Martinez, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) — In what activists describe as unprecedented, the Catholic archbishop in Los Angeles has relieved a retired cardinal of his public and administrative duties for his mishandling of “painful and brutal” allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of the Los Angeles Archdiocese disciplined his predecessor, the now retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, after a California judge forced the archdiocese to release about 12,000 pages of church documents revealing how it handled allegations of abuse.

There were 192 priests and bishops named in litigation, the archdiocese said.

“The cases span decades,” Gomez said in a statement Thursday.Some go back to the 1930s. The documents were released on the archdiocese’s website.

“But that does not make them less serious. I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” he said. Read the full article at

By Steve McSwain, Huffington Post

I was reading recently of the bravery of the Irish Catholic priest, Fr. Tony Flannery, who, at 66, is being threatened by the Vatican.

No! I thought. The Vatican never threatens anyone!


The history of Christianity, and not just in Catholicism but in all Christian denominations, is similar. The Church has found that it thrives best not in a world it sacrifices itself to redeem — not in a world it lays down its life in order to give life to others — but, instead, it survives best by demanding coercion, by making itself into a “god” and insisting this God can only be known “our” way; by making its beliefs into an idol that the faithful must bow the knee. The church has found that, by drawing lines in theological and doctrinal sands, battle lines between “us,” the theologically “correct” and “them,” the doctrinally “wrong,” that, by doing so, the church wins.

But does it really?

Of course, it does not, as history has repeatedly demonstrated. Unfortunately, however, history, at least as far as the church is concerned, has never been a very good teacher for church leaders.

For all the good the church has done, and it has done much good, the history of Christianity is in large measure the history of madness. This morning’s story is simply another case-in-point.

Last year, for example, the Vatican suspended Flannery’s ministry. And, today, Flannery is being threatened with charges of “heresy” and possible “excommunication” from the church.


Read the full article at Huffington Post.

By Phyllis Zagano at the National Catholic Register

zaganoPlease answer in 750 words or fewer: What is the deal with men’s violence against women?

I do not get it. Do you? It seems there is an epidemic of horrendous acts against women around the world.

This past fall in Pakistan, a man shot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head. She had blogged for the BBC about life under the Taliban. The world’s media eye monitored her medical treatment in England. She’s won awards. They’re naming a girls’ school after her. She is still recovering.

That was bad. This is worse. In India in mid-December, six men raped and sodomized a 23-year-old female physiotherapy student. On a bus. With a metal rod.

They flew her to Singapore and kept her alive for two weeks until she died.

In Pakistan and elsewhere, the cry is “we are all Malala,” and most of India seems to be protesting the student’s death. There is little evidence the protests will change anything at all. Can they?

The New York Times reports a third of New Delhi’s female population was sexually harassed in the year prior to a recent survey. One percent complained to the police. Why? Ask any woman. There is danger in reporting trouble. Just last week, two men raped an 18-year-old woman in India’s Punjab State. She complained. Then policemen humiliated her, making her describe the attack over and over and over again. She committed suicide.

We can blame violent video games and movies. We can blame poverty and boredom. In some countries, the problem seems to be too many men and not enough women. In India, where girls are often aborted (or, some say, killed at birth), there are 15 million unattached males between the ages of 15 and 35. That number may double by 2020. What will the future bring?

Read the rest of Zagano’s piece at the National Catholic Register, where she ponders how Christianity might be the antidote to violence against women — but the voice of Christianity is blocked because “more than half the world’s Christians are in a church that does not appear to treat women as equals.”