New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 26, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 4A — Herald-Zettunc — Saturday, February 26, 2011
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Nearer, my ‘Confession’ app, to thee
For generations, Catholics carried these simple leaflets inside their handbags or wallets, short texts topped with titles such as "A Guide For Confession" or "A Personal Examination of the Conscience."
The believer would be reminded:
"Be truly sorry for your sins. The essential act of penance, on the part of the penitent, is contrition, a clear and decisive rejection of the sin committed, together with a resolution not to commit it again, out of the love one has for (iod and which is reborn with repentance."
These paper guides also offer lists of questions to prick the conscience, such as, "Have I denied my faith?,"
"Have I neglected prayer?" or "Was I impatient, angry, envious, proud, jealous, revengeful, lazy?" If it had been a long time since a previous confession, the penitent would be reminded, "If you need help ... simply ask the priest and he will help you by walking' you through the steps."
That was then.
In recent weeks, waves of Catholics, along with curious inembers of other flocks, have downloaded a new "Confession" app for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices that combines private journaling, spiritual readings and traditional preconfession leaflets into one password-protected digital package. Why carry scribbled notes into confession when for $1.99 one can work through the rite while being bathed in the cool blue glow that is the symbol of the social-networking age?
Scribes in newsrooms around the world sprang into action.
Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been 300 tweets since my last confession," noted CNN.
In London, The l imes opened its story by claiming: Homan Catholic bishops have approved a new iPhone and iPad app that allows users to make confession with a virtual priest’ over the Internet."
The Economic Times report was even more blunt. The headline noted, "No time to visit church? Confess via iPhone." Then the opening lines went further still, stating: "Users of iPhone can now perform contrition and other religious rituals without visiting church, thanks to a new online application."
I he problem is that these statements were just plain wrong. There is no such thing as a "virtual" priest or a virtual" sacrament. How could elec-
Terry Mattingly is director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and leads the GetReligion.org project to study religion and the net vs.
tronic devices allow believers to "perform ... other religious rituals"?
I am all for anything that gets people to go to confession," noted the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, at his popular What Does the Prayer Really Say?" website.
"But let's be clear about something: The iPhone app is for preparing to go to confession. It is not a substitute for going to confession."
Nevertheless, the cracked headlines rolled on with the Catholic League expressing outrage about new stinkers, such as, "Can't Make it to Confession? There's an App for That," "New, Church-Approved iPhone Offers Confession On the Go" and Bless Me iPhone for I Have Sinned." It was true that the Confession app had been developed with the direct help of Catholic priests and, yes, its theological content earned an imprimatur from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, leader of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind.But after the barrage of inaccurate headlines, Vatican officials finally decided that a response was required.
It is true that "in a world in which many people use computer support for reading and reflection," Catholics may now find that "digital technology can be useful in the preparation for confession," noted the Rev. Federico Uimbardi, director of the Vatican press office.
However, he added, it is "essential to understand that the sacrament of penance requires a personal dialogue between the penitent and the confessor in order for absolution to be given.
This ... cannot be replaced by any computer application such as the iPhone."
This statement produced more headlines. A CBS headline offering was typical — "Vatican: No, You Can't Confess to Your iPhone." Of course, the app’s creators never made that claim in the first place.
The story had come full circle.
Thus, noted Maureen Down of The New York l imes, this new app "is not a session with a virtual priest who restores your virtue with a penance of three Hail Marys and three extra gigabytes of memory.
"... You still have to go into the real confessional at church to get absolution, and, hopefully, your priest won't be annoyed that you're reading your sins off of a little screen and, maybe, peeking at a football game or shopping site once in awhile."
Letters to the Editor
Secure border could solve some of country’s drug problem
Terrorism in the form of violence is an obvious, media-prevalent problem in America, but what about terrorism in the form of illegal drugs? jails and prisons are increasingly overcrowded and under staffed, and the majority of inmates are there for drug-related crimes.
Consider die problems of drug addiction: theft, homelessness, helplessness, desperation, millions on probation or pending parole/probation, prison violence and gangs. Where is the outcry over this problem that affects everyone in America? I he effect is not just on the border: drug use is widespread. Broken families are a direct result of this terrorism. Families are destroyed when a child, father, or mother is addicted to drugs. Who supports families when the addicted adult is unable to? Everyone ultimately does time, and release from confinement does not end the problem. Many end up homeless, and taxpayers must help in some way.
The medical problems created by drug use — Fiepatitis B and C, HIV, tuberculosis — are all in some way going to cost the taxpayers. The problem isn't only because of the dirty, shared needles,
but the prison/jail system, which in many places can be a breeding ground for disease. Only basic care is given in the system. No expensive medical care is given in the hopes of curtailing diseases for the time when prisoners are released. In other words, release from confinement does not end any of the problems, and in fact may perpetuate many. If our borders were secure, would we still have a drug problem? Maybe. Probably. But perhaps on a scale that law enforcement could deal with. Drugs have changed this country in a profound way, and if the problem were solved today it would take at least a generation to begin to reverse the consequences. This year will mark the twenty-third anniversary of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act (1988). 1998 saw the Reauthorization Act of The National Drug Control Policy. What has happened? Many of the big guys’ are still in business. Finding drugs is easy. Why? Doesn’t this imply that the supply is unending?
Please, guard our borders. Stop drugs, treat addiction, commute sentences for convicts completing drug-treatment programs and job training. It will be less costly than the current status quo. Take care of this country from the inside.
Lark Pogue New Braunfels
Editor and Publisher Managing Editor Circulation Director Business Manager Advertising Director
Doug Toney Autumn Phillips Jeff Fowler Rosie Willingham Timothy Tergeoglou
United States Government
Focus on PATRIOT Act facts, not fiction
law & Order and other criminal justice shows often paint the PATRIOT Act as the tool of Big Brother, allowing government officials to spy on innocent Americans. While it might be good for ratings, the myths surrounding the PATRIOT Act unfortunately have overshadowed reality. Members of Congress now struggle to help voters sift through fiction to find the facts.
A recent guest commentary piece in the Herald-Zeitung regarding national security and the PATRIOT Act underscored this problem. I hope this letter will help shed some light on the truth.
In the last few years, there have been several terrorist attempts on U.S. soil. On Christmas Day 2009, a foreign terrorist from Nigeria attempted to detonate a bomb hidden under clothes on a plane en route to Detroit. Last spring, a radicalized American citizen from Pakistan tried to explode a car bomb in Time Square. And plots to attack both the Washington D.C. metro and New York subway systems have also been thwarted.
The terrorist threat has not diminished. That’s why Congress voted to extend for 90 days three national security provisions, which were scheduled to expire on Feb. 28. This short-term extension buys Congress time for a thorough review of the provisions before considering a longer term reauthorization.
In other words, we needed more time to conduct hearings, interview FBI and intelligence officials, work with the Administration and educate new members on the successes of the PATRIOT Act. And during this open and public debate on the expiring provisions, it is my hope that we can dispel the myths surrounding the PATRIOT Act.
The three expiring provisions that Congress will consider this year are constitutional and common sense.
For example, the roving wiretap provision allows intelligence officials — after receiving approval from a federal court — to conduct surveillance on terrorist suspects regardless of how many communication devices they use. We know terrorists use many forms of communication, including disposable cell phones, to conceal their plots. Without roving wiretaps, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone, or computer that needs to be monitored, wasting valuable time.
The business records provision allows the FBI to access tangible items, including business records, in foreign intelligence, international terrorism and espionage cases. Again, this provision requires the approval of a federal judge. That means the FBI must prove to a federal judge that the documents are needed as part of a legitimate national security or espionage investigation. So if you are not a terrorist or a spy, this authority cannot be used to obtain any of your records.
The third provision amends the legal definition of an agent of a foreign power to include a “lone wolf.” National security laws allow intelligence gathering on foreign governments, terrorist groups, and their agents. But what about a foreign terrorist who either acts alone or cannot be immediately tied to a terrorist organization? The lone wolf definition simply brings our national security into the 21st Century to allow our intelligence officials to answer the modern day terrorist threat. The lone wolf authority cannot be used against a U.S. citizen.
That’s it. Those three provisions are what Congress voted to extend for 90 days so we could have more time review their use and effectiveness in Congress.
For the next three months, the House Judiciary Committee that I chair will take the lead in an open and public debate on these provisions. Our hearings will be web cast on the House Judi-ciary Committee website
(http://judiciary.house.gov/). For those who are interested, I urge you to follow along.
I admit, it might not be as interesting or exciting in real life as it seems on Law & Order. But if we are going to both protect our national security and our civil liberties, we must as a nation put aside fiction and focus on the facts.
— U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
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■The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions.
■ Guest columns should be 500 words or less and must be accompanied by a photo.
■ Address and telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed.
■ Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D C. 20500
■ Kay Bailey Hutchison
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NEW El R A U N F E L S CITY COUNCIL
424 S. Castell Ave.
P.O. Box 311747,
New Braunfels, TX 78131-1747
■ Mayor Bruce Boyer [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4507
■ Dist. 1 Councilor Richard Zapata [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4501
■ Dist. 2 Councilor Mark Goodner mgoodner @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4502
■ Dist. 3 Councilor Mike Ybarra mybarra @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4503
■ Dist. 4 Councilor Sandy Nolte [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4504
■ Dist. 6 Councilor Kathleen Krueger kkrueger @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4505
■ Dist. 6 Councilor Steven Digges [email protected]
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Comal County Commissioners' Court 199 Main Plaza New Braunfels,Tx 78130 (830) 221-1100
■ COUNTY JUDGE SHERMAN KRAUSE
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■ PCT. 1 COMMISSIONER DONNA ECCLESON [email protected]
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■ PCT. 2 COMMISSIONER SCOH HAAG
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■ PCT. 3 COMMISSIONER GREG PARKER
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■ PCT. 4 COMMISSIONER JAN KENNADY [email protected]
Telephone: (830) 221-1104