Monday, November 25, 2019

Homophobic Mom who Killed Gay Son and Set Him on Fire gets 25 Years

Tatiana Lozano Pereira of Brazil was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing and burning her gay son Itaberli Lozano.  In 2017, Pereira claimed that her son ran away and came back to kill her. She claimed that she killed him with a knife out of self defense. The authorities did not buy her story. It was discovered that she had hired local boys/men to severely beat her son after luring him home with promises of reconciliation between the two.  The boys/men revealed the details of what really happened to the police. 

Pereira then stabbed her son to death and set him on fire after the men refused to kill him. Her husband then helped dispose of the charred remains. Young Itaberli Lozano has posted things on Facebook detailing the abuse he received from his mother and denounced her homophobia.  You can read more here: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2017/01/mom-stabs-sets-son-on-fire-for-being-gay.html.

A jury of her peers agreed to a 25 years and eight months prison sentence for her crimes. Two others charged with the plot,  Victor Roberto da Silva and Miller da Silva Barissa were sentenced to 21 years and eight months. Lozano's stepfather and husband of Pereira was charged with the concealing of a deceased body, but his trial is being rescheduled.  The uncle of Itaberli came to the defense of his nephew saying that his nephew had a job, was polite and never quarreled with anyone. He added that his only problem was his mother who did not accept him as a gay male.  The parties sentenced all plan to appeal their sentences. 

The news of the killing of this young man was heartbreaking. How can a mother kill her own son just because he is gay? To me, the sentence is too little. She should have been sentenced to life.  As a Catholic, I naturally disagree with the homosexual lifestyle; however, this does not mean that I or the Church wants gay people to be beaten or killed. This goes against God, the Church and humanity! We are all sinners. No one is perfect. Gay people are human and deserve our love and respect despite our disagreements.

I cannot imagine the horrors this beautiful teenage baby boy faced. To be beaten up by boys your own mom hired or by men hired to kill him is just evil. Moreover, for a mom to stab and set her own son on fire is sickening and evil. To think that this boy went home and saw his mom cheering on as the guys beat him and then calling for his death only to do it herself.  It is just horrendous and saddening. Moreover, we do not know for sure if he was dead when he was set ablaze. Can you imagine being in his position watching your own mom stab you?  It gets me sick to my stomach.   

If you are gay and are reading this. Do not be afraid if your family attacks you. Go and seek help from the police, teachers or clergy. You do not have to be a victim of abuse of any kind.


May young Itaberli Lozano through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


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Source:

https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/sao-paulo/mother-who-killed-homosexual-son-sentenced-to-25-years-imprisonment-in-sp/

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/11/29/being-gay-itaberli-lozano-mother-sentenced-killing-stabbing-own-son-hired-hitmen-brazil/

https://nypost.com/2019/12/01/brazilian-woman-who-killed-son-for-being-gay-gets-25-years-in-prison/

https://www.out.com/crime/2019/11/29/brazilian-woman-sentenced-25-years-killing-gay-son

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Book Review: The Works of His Hands: A Scientist’s Journey from Atheism to Faith

Dr. Sy Garte was kind enough to mail me a review copy of his book "The Works of His Hands: A Scientist's Journey from Atheism to Faith."  I have known him on Twitter for a few years now engaging alleged atheists. In this post, I will review his book.

Dr. Garte comes from an atheist background. He mentions this in the first chapter of his book by giving us details of his family and youth as a student in college. He adopted materialistic ideals stemming from his family's Communist political roots. During this time, he began to question his atheism. The account is very similar to my own and many others who come from an atheist and science background. After studying science beyond an elementary level, we realized something was off with atheism.  Dr. Garte noticed this and explains his experience.  Physics, as usual, is the atheism killers, so to speak. He explains how his lessons on physics made him realize that the world is not as determined as his atheism brought him up to believe. The world, in a sense, is "ordered chaos." It is a paradox if you will.  This along with other facts about physics opened the mind of Dr. Garte to think of a Creator and question the veracity of his atheistic beliefs.

Many atheists or alleged atheists online portray themselves as having all of the answers. They argue unceasingly with theists of all denominations about God claiming that science refuted God. Some even claim that God refutes Himself. Dr. Garte tells us in his book that, while on his journey, he found that he did not have all the answers. No one does. He found out that questions are more important than answers. This is something I can testify to. Midway in the book, Dr. Garte explores the many scientific concepts that brought him to question atheism and eventually to believe in God, a Creator. He goes into detail with each and does not miss any details.  His content is well referenced for those who wish to follow up on his claims which adds credibility and authority to them.

In the latter chapters, Dr. Garte explores the philosophical questions and ideas that he explored with aided him on his journey and made him realize that science is not the be-all-end-all of academic fields. Scientism is a concept that has taken control of the minds of the so-called new atheism movement and some scientists. It is an idea that posits that only science is necessary. With its methodology, science is seen as superior to other fields of study. This idea has led to some scientists, including the disgraced physicist Dr. Krauss to mock philosophy. Joining him in the mockery Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson has not been shy about bashing philosophy. This led to one of my philosophy professors from my years at CUNY and an atheist himself, Dr. Pigluicci to confront him on it. Dr. Pigluicci has also debated Dr. Krauss on scientism.  Dr. Garte explains to readers why scientism is not feasible. Science cannot answer everything.  Despite its nearly perfect methods of empirical study, it is still limited to a range of experience and inquiry. He writes on page 120, "The denial of any knowledge other than the scientific kind gives us a distorted view of reality." This is very true. 

Lastly, Dr. Garte takes us on his personal journey and how he ended up in the Methodist denomination where he currently practices his Christian faith. He explains evolution to readers and why it does not conflict with Christianity or the Judeo-Christian theology. Dr. Garte relies on his knowledge of biology and other references to make his arguments showing that evolution, the human body, and life, in general, are a miracle of God. They show an intelligent creation, or as he describes it, a "divine design." Despite the evil and suffering in the world, Dr. Garte saw that this world and the universe is truly a miracle. He writes on page 168, "I saw that the world, the world as it is, is not a terrible place but a place of beauty, of intricate design, a cleverly woven fabric of amazing order and perfect harmony." 

I really enjoyed reading Dr. Garte's book and know you reading this review will enjoy it as well. The book does not drown readers with heavy scientific knowledge but does not water it down either. Anyone who has had a basic grasp of science and philosophy will be able to follow the book without issue.  The book will certainly help those atheists out there who are on the same journey or who are seriously looking to find answers. While reading the book, I noticed God's hand in both the life of Dr. Garte, my own and others who have shared their stories with me. It is so clear that there is a God out there guiding everything, a divine providence. This book makes it so clear, especially for people like myself and others who were once atheists and can see nearly identical patterns in the journey of Dr. Garte. 

This book will make a great companion for anyone's personal library and can be used to hold discussions in a church group setting or even a college setting. I can see this book being used at college Christian clubs and even atheist/secularist/humanist clubs as a means to start discussions.  This book is well written and to the point. One will not want to put it down once started. As one reads it, one can get a feel for Dr. Garte's personal journey and his sincerity. The book is only 250 pages long. I finished it within 2 hours. Dr. Garte does not proselytize nor push any doctrines. He simply shares his journey to faith and how science led him to it. 

This book is a must-have for those into apologetics of all faiths and for those seriously inquiring who are still within the umbrella of atheism.  Dr. Garte truly showed us "The Works of His hands" in an eloquent, academic and personal way.  Well done! 

You can find Dr. Sy Garte online here:

https://twitter.com/sygarte 
https://biologos.org/people/sy-garte
https://theworksofhishands.com

Monday, November 4, 2019

'Pachamama Good Thief' Alexander Tschugguel Comes Out

The "good thief" Alexander Tschugguel finally revealed himself as one of the men seen on the now famous video thrown the "Pachamama" figures into the Tiber river (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2019/10/ambiguous-figures-of-our-lady-of-amazon.html). He claims that when he learned that the purpose of the Amazon synod was political rather than religious, this angered him. The images of a Franciscans and other bowing to the figure was the last straw.

He and the other man went early to Rome and waited for the church to open. They prayed the Rosary and then entered the church to remove the figures of "Pachamama" and casting them into the Tiber river. Here is the video:












I have been reserved about this whole situation. Regardless of the motive, no one has the right to steal from any location and vandalize. This is the main issue we should all be concerned about. The "Pachamama" figures were not worshiped. The images were re-purposed as symbols. This is not foreign in Catholicism. In Rome, we see many Pagan items that were re-purposed as Christian symbols.

As it stands, I will refrain from calling these men "heroes" because there is no evidence that the figures were worshiped as idols. They should face some sort of criminal charges for their actions. We cannot have people mimicking their false heroics in other situations. A clear message must be sent.

It is interesting to note that conspiracist Dr. Taylor Marshall immediately had the young man Alexander Txchugguel on his YouTube broadcast. Some have speculated online as to whether Marshall has something to do with the theft and vandalism. His Twitter account mysteriously was wiped and became inactive prior to the incident with the "Pachamama" figures (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2019/10/twitter-suspendsbans-conspiracist.html). In today's interview on YouTube, one can see Marshall's "Infiltration" book in the background facing the camera out of place on the bookshelf.

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Sunday, November 3, 2019

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: God is Close to Us

Before I get to today's reflection, I want to ask you for help. As many of you know, I started this site years ago and began with only 12 views. From there, this site has exploded with nearly a million views, a radio podcast and broadcast on You Tube. I noticed the hunger out there for God, especially from those outside of the Catholic Church. I believe the Lord is calling me and others to "go out into the deep" and "fish" for these souls. In order to do this, I need to expand this work and this costs money. I need to continually renew the domain names I use, purchase equipment to keep the broadcasts as up to date and professional as possible and need to pay for subscriptions in order to expand radio podcast hours. Moreover, I want to form an apostolate focused on reaching lapsed Catholics and those outside of the Church who may have been alienated. In order to do this, I will need to hire a lawyer to help with the legal documentation in order to trademark the apostolate and form it into a legal entity allowing for tax deductions for donators. I ask you to please help me raise about $35,000 in order to begin the process.  Please donate at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus. You can also become a patron on www.patreon.com/sacerdotus. God will truly reward you for this effort. Be like Zacchaeus in today's reading and give away your possessions in order to help others spread the faith and care for souls.



Reflection:

Today's readings remind us that while God is bigger than the universe, He is not far from us or untouchable. The first reading reminds us that the universe is just a grain on a balance before God.

Those of you who studied astronomy know that the universe is extremely large. In fact, recently, astronomers have declared that there are more galaxies in the universe than previously thought. We with our technologies have barely scratched the surface, so to speak, on how big the universe really is. It may be eternal or may have a "wall" or end. We just do not know. The fact that this beautiful thing we call "the universe" exists is testament to how much bigger its creator is.  Despite the awesomeness of the creator, He is not far away (Acts 17:27, Jeremiah 23:23).  He is not an impersonal creator as deists believe. God looks upon all with mercy. This is because God can do all things (Luke 18:27). Sin, suffering and even death are not an obstacle to God. We who are the created panic when we see evil in the world.  This is because we are finite creatures.  We only see the limited, not the infinite.  God loves all things and does not hate anything or anyone. Those who go around speaking for God claiming that He hates Gays, Muslims, other Christians and so on are mistaken. God loves all.  He loves all so much that He sent His only son to die a horrible death in order to redeem the world (John 3:16). God truly loves all of us.  He will us to existence, as the reading tells us.  This was the purpose of the Amazon synod the Vatican held last month. The Church is trying to reach all peoples and preach the Gospel to them.  The Gospel is the love of God, Jesus Christ. 

Despite our wrongdoings, He spares us and waits for us to turn back to Him. God warns us about our sins and redirects us. We must be aware of this in our spiritual lives.  This will bring us to praise God's name for ever as the responsorial Psalm tells us. God is our king and also our father.  He loves each of us and knows each of us by name. We must bless Him and praise His name. We must be thankful to God always. In all He does, He is compassionate and loving.  God is not a liar. He always keeps His promises. We must remain faithful even if we feel God is far away, which He is not. We must ask God to make us worthy of His calling, as the second reading reminds us.  Only God can direct our paths and perfect them. With His grace, we can fulfill whatever good purpose He calls us to.  Every effort of faith is perfected in Him, now ourselves. While we do cooperate in grace, it is ultimately God who is justifying us. We must try our best to live holy lives that glorifies the name of Jesus. Our lives must reflect to others Christ. This is what it means to become a saint. Being a saint does not mean having magical powers or halos around our heads. It means becoming like Jesus Christ. Today we also celebrate the saint Martin de Porres who was a very holy and humble friar of the Dominican order. I invite you to read his life and learn from his example. 

Lastly, in today's Gospel, we read of the tax collector named Zacchaeus who was short in stature. He wanted to see Jesus, but could not for this very reason. Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree in order to be able to see Jesus. As Jesus passed, He sees Zacchaeus and tells him to come down because He is staying at his place. Can you imagine this? Imagine if Christ sees you and tells you He is staying at your place! Would this not be so awesome?  Well guess what! He does this every day. Christ tells us that He wants to stay in our place, the heart. He waits for us in the Blessed Sacrament. Zacchaeus I can imagine was a bit confused. He probably wondered why Jesus chose him out of the many others. This was because Zacchaeus did everything possible to "see" Jesus. He climbed an obstacle. Jesus notices this. We today are like Zacchaeus who climb every obstacle in our lives in order to see Christ. When we do this, Christ notices us and makes a place for Himself at our home, the heart. Now, there will be those people who will criticize us when we get closer to God. In the Gospel, we read of those who went to see Jesus who were upset that Jesus paid more attention to Zacchaeus, a tax collector who was hated for doing his job.

Even today, the tax collector is not a welcomed person. Those who pay taxes to the IRS or any other government tax agency know very well how tax employees are disliked. Who likes to pay taxes or pay bills at all?  Despite this,Christ loved Zacchaeus. Christ is not prejudice. Moreover, Zacchaeus was overjoyed that Christ wanted to go to his home. Despite being a sinner and hated by the crowd, Jesus wanted to spend time with him. Christ goes after those who are pariahs in society. The sinner is not far from God despite his or her sins. Christ waits for him or her to invite him to his or her home. Zacchaeus offers half of his goods to the poor. He shows the change he made after realizing that Christ wanted to go to his home. He turns around and offers to repay four times what he took from others. Jesus sees this and tells him that salvation hascome to his home. The story of Zachaeus should remind us of our spiritual lives. We must not feel like God is impossible to reach. He may be bigger than the universe, but not impossible to reach. Like Zacchaeus, we must climb obstacles to see Him and let Him come inside to our home, the heart. However, this is not all. We must make the necessary changes in order to obtain salvation "in our home." St. Augustine tells us, "The Lord, who had already welcomed Zacchaeus in his heart, was now ready to be welcomed by him in his house. He said, 'Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down, since I have to stay in your house.' He thought it was a marvelous piece of good luck to see Christ. While imagining it was a marvelous piece of luck quite beyond words to see him passing by, he was suddenly found worthy to have him in his house. Grace is poured out, and faith starts working through love. Christ, who was already dwelling in his heart, is welcomed into his house.  Zacchaeus says to Christ, 'Lord, half my goods I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times over." It is as if he were saying, "The reason I am keeping back half for myself is not in order to have it, but to have something from which to pay people back.' There you are. That is really what welcoming Jesus means, welcoming him into your heart. Christ was already there. He was in Zacchaeus and spoke through him. The apostle says that this is what it means, 'For Christ to dwell by faith in your hearts.' ("Sermon 174.5", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 291.)

We must invite God in and allow Him to enter, no questions asked. We must not shut ourselves to christ, even in difficult times. Changing out lives and becoming detached are important. We must be willing to let go of even our possessions for the sake of Christ. This is why I invest a lot on bringing the Gospel to others, especially those outside of the Church and why I ask my readers to become benefactors and help me expand this evangelization work. We can use money to please ourselves or we can use it to please God and spread the Gospel. Which is more important? St. Jerome tells us, "There certainly is much truth in a certain saying of a philosopher, 'Every rich man is either wicked or the heir of wickedness.' That is why the Lord and Savior says that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Someone may raise the objection, 'How did wealthy Zacchaeus enter the kingdom of heaven?' He gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The Lord and Savior did not say that the rich would not enter the kingdom of heaven but that they will enter with difficulty. ("Homily on Psalm 83", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 290.)"  Having possessions or wealth in itself is not bad. As St. Maximus of Turin tells us, "Zacchaeus must be praised. His riches were unable to keep him from the royal threshold. He should be greatly praised because his riches brought him to the threshold of the kingdom. From this, we understand that wealth is not a hindrance but a help to attaining the glory of Christ. While we possess it, we should not squander it on wild living but give it away for the sake of salvation. There is no crime in possessions, but there is crime in those who do not know how to use possessions. For the foolish, wealth is a temptation to vice, but for the wise, it is a help to virtue. Some receive an opportunity for salvation, but others acquire an obstacle of condemnation ("Sermons 95-96", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 291.)." We must make use of our wealth to serve God and others. Storing up wealth on earth just for the sake of storing is problematic. When we die, we do not carry our checkbooks with us nor our safes. These stay on earth for others to enjoy. If we use our wealth to serve God and others, we will demonstrate that resolve to change just like Zacchaeus. This is why I ask you to please be generous and help me raise the funds necessary to truly expand this evangelization work. This work serves God and others. God will reward you for being generous. Remember that you are not held back from approaching God. Climb the sycamores in your life and allow Christ to visit your home. Be generous and let go of material wealth for the sake of the faith. May Jesus Christ be praised.



Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/103016.cfm






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