01: Circles of Support And Accountability is a fledgling Canadian Mennonite ministry that has already gained an international reputation for its work with sex offenders.
Circles is part support network and part neighborhood watch, volunteers work both with released offenders, finding them housing and health care while meeting with police, media and angry community members. The circles help solve offender problems while holding them accountable for any actions that might lead them back into old patterns of thought or behavior.
Today there are 100 circles across Canada run by 20 organizations and the concept is being replicated in Ireland, the Netherlands, the U.S., and the United Kingdom. A 2004 study showed that high-risk offenders who have the support of a circle are up to 70 percent less likely to offend again; the recidivism rate for sex offenders is 17 percent.
(Source: Utne Magazine, July/August)
02: With the papacy of Benedict XVI, Father Joseph Fessio has emerged as a key figure in American Catholicism.
Fessio is founder of Ignatius Press, which has published most of Benedict’s (the former Joseph Ratzinger’s) writings in English, and is provost of the new Ave Maria University in Florida (founded by Domino‘s Pizza billionaire Thomas Monaghan). Fessio was a student of Benedict in the 1970s and became part of a powerful European network of conservative church officials and theologians.
As a Jesuit, Fessio had been under pressure from his largely liberal order for his conservative publishing and activism, but now with Benedict’s rule, the Jesuits have been feeling the heat (seen in the resignation of the editor of the Jesuit magazine America). Fessio’s new influence have led some to speculate that he will be appointed archbishop of San Francisco.
(Source: The Tablet, June 25)
03: Ziad Silwadi, a Palestinian Koranic scholar, has become a popular oracle in much of the Islamic world for his prophecies of destruction to the U.S due to massive tsunamis in 2007.
Silwadi has become convinced that passages in the Koran dealing with divine punishment of serious sins are actually about the U.S. In recently publishing his findings, Silwadi has found a worldwide readership for his often esoteric and arcane interpretations of the Muslim holy book. Silwadi, who uses calculations involving Koranic “verse counting” to arrive at the 2007 date, believes America will be punished for its sins of genocide, slavery and the use of atomic weapons.
(Source: Reason, August/September)