- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2024

Ten days after the Vatican released a document granting priests the right to offer a blessing to same-sex and other couples in “irregular” relationships, the Catholic Church’s top doctrine officer offered an “out” to bishops not on board with the concept. The Dec. 18 announcement brought positive reactions from LGBTQ+ advocates within the church, but also sharp rebukes, with at least three bishops prohibiting the practice in their dioceses.

Subscribe to have The Washington Times’ Higher Ground delivered to your inbox every Sunday.

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernandez, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the Spanish newspaper ABC that “it’s proper for each local bishop to make that discernment” and forbid priests in their diocese from offering the blessings. He said permitting such blessings could, for example, cause trouble in nations where homosexual acts are still criminal offenses. Several African nations have such laws on the books.

Riley Gaines: Faith, family gave me courage to speak out on transgender athlete issue

The support of her family and a lifelong faith in God helped athlete Riley Gaines speak out against transgender athletes who are participating in women’s sports — and winning medals biological women should have received, our correspondent Valerie Richardson reports.

While Ms. Gaines believes her opposition to male-born athletes competing against girls and women was correct ”in terms of biological reality,” she added, “I also understood in terms of biblical truth that God created only man and woman, and our God doesn’t make mistakes,” she said. The decision by the NCAA regarding transgender athletes “dissented from biblical truth. That made me feel compelled to speak out as well.”

Faith stories of 2023 worth remembering

The end of 2023 closes the books on a challenging year for many, but it also records a period where faith made significant advances, the Higher Ground staff reports in a recap of faith items worth remembering.

From the 16-day revival at Asbury University and the miracles reported amid the devastating fire on Hawaii’s Maui island to the #PrayForDamar movement that sprung up when an NFL player’s heart stopped during a game, there are several stories of faith uniting people, inspiring acts of service and leading individuals to repentance and stronger faith.

Read the Bible as if your life depends on it: Michael Youssef

A noted evangelist says Christians risk spiritual “suicide” because they don’t read the Bible regularly. Instead, Dr. Michael Youssef says, believers should read the Scriptures as if their lives depend on it.

The Egyptian-born preacher, who now pastors a church in Atlanta, said ignorance of the Bible as a historical fact is corrupting our culture. He challenges everyone to read, study and understand the Bible.

Priest slammed for labeling Jesus a ‘Palestinian Jew’ label — on Christmas Day, no less

A Roman Catholic priest is under fire for declaring Jesus was “a Palestinian Jew” during a Christmas Day TV interview. The Rev. Edward L. Beck, a priest of the Passionist order, told “CNN This Morning” co-host Poppy Harlow that the life Jesus led has “parallels to our current world situation right now” that “you can’t make up.”

“The story of Christmas is about a Palestinian Jew,” Father Beck said. “How often do you find those words put together?”

Not often when it comes to Jesus, said radio talk show host Erick-Woods Erickson, who said Christ was born “in Judea more than one hundred years before the Romans created [the province of] Syria Palaestina.” He said Jesus “was, after all, executed in Jerusalem with a sign over his cross that read, ‘The King of the Jews,’ not ‘the Palestinians.’”

VIDEO: Rapper Lecrae warns Christians of ‘toxic culture’

Rapper Lecrae, who stars in the new film, “Journey to Bethlehem,” said Christians should be aware that “toxic culture” exists even within Christian communities and that all should beware.

He spoke with The Times’ Billy Hallowell about how “God can make beauty from ashes”  and offered a striking reminder for Christians when it comes to preparing for God’s judgment.

National Archives settles with pro-lifers told to remove anti-abortion wear 

The National Archives will pay $10,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by several pro-life activists who were ordered to remove clothing and other items bearing anti-abortion messages when they visited the repository of America’s most historic documents in the heart of Washington, D.C.

According to The Times’ Valerie Richardson, the plaintiffs — a grandmother, a law student, and a Catholic high school student — were among multiple visitors who said they were confronted last year by security at the National Archives and the Smithsonian over their pro-life attire.

In our opinion

Gable: Target, Bud Light flops offer cautionary tales

Widely publicized marketing failures by two major brands — retailer Target and the brewers of Bud Light beer — left commentary writer Lisa Gable bemused at the spectacle of two giant corporations displaying “a startling lack of basic business sense.”

Instead of bending to political fashions, Ms. Gable said the brands should have stayed true to the reasons core audiences connected to the firms and their products. “The key to any brand’s success is to craft a message that resonates with the core audience’s needs, steering clear of the uncertain landscape of politicized marketing,” she writes.

Hallowell: Entertainers quit spotlight for Jesus

Billy Hallowell writes that rapper Daddy Yankee, country music star Granger Smith and singer Montell Jordan have something in common, aside from the experience of performing in front of large audiences.

Each turned their back on their career to pursue Christian ministry. Of Daddy Yankee (born Ramon Ayala), Mr. Hallowell noted, “It’s remarkable to watch the popular performer so transformed by his encounter with God that he plans to devote everything he’s been given to help others find the same peace and solace reshaping his life.”

Ask Dr. E: A surprising national New Year’s resolution

Asked for “just one bit of advice” for the coming year, Everett Piper, our “Ask Dr. E” columnist, replies with a surprising New Year’s resolution for 2024: “Stop affirming your children and start confronting them.”

“Stop trying to be your son’s or daughter’s best friend and start doing your job,” he counsels. “You’re a parent, not a pal. Lead your children and quit following them.”

Copyright © 2024 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide