Monday, July 28, 2014

Papal First: Francis Visits Pentecostal Church

 


Pope Francis has become the first pope to visit a Pentecostal church, pressing his outreach to evangelicals who represent Catholicism's greatest competition for Christian souls around the globe.
Francis flew by helicopter Monday to visit the under-construction Evangelical Church of Reconciliation in the southern city of Caserta. He met privately with Pentecostal preacher Giovanni Traettino, an old friend.
Speaking to some 350 Pentecostal faithful in the church, Francis apologized for Catholic persecution of Pentecostals during Italy's fascist regime, when the practice of their faith was forbidden, and stressed that there was unity in diversity within Christianity.
"Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy people trying to ruin the race, there were also Catholics," he said. "I am the pastor of Catholics, and I ask your forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who didn't know and were tempted by the devil."
He acknowledged the remarkable nature of his visit, saying: "Someone will be surprised: 'The pope went to visit the evangelicals?' But he went to see his brothers."
Catholics have often compared Pentecostal groups to cults and accused them of overly aggressive, unethical proselytizing. The popular, charismatic movements have drained parishioners from the Catholic Church, particularly in Francis' own Latin America.
But Francis has met unofficially with several Pentecostal and evangelical preachers recently, including the Texas televangelists James Robinson and Kenneth Copeland. He recorded an iPhone video for a Pentecostal conference hosted by Copeland, whose prosperity gospel ministry — stressing that God will reward the faithful with health and wealth — clashes with Francis' own embrace of the value of a "poor church."
Not all evangelicals or Catholics have welcomed the pope's outreach: Some traditionalist Catholics have sought to minimize the pope's initiative, stressing that Traettino and others represent only their individual churches.
In a statement earlier this month on the eve of the Caserta meeting, several Italian evangelical groups met in the same city and stressed the "incompatibility" of their beliefs with that of the Catholic Church and its pope.
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Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield
 
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Brothers and sisters, never war, never war!" Pope Francis.



Pope Francis in emotional peace plea

Pope spoke of first world war centenary and said his thoughts were on the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine in particular
 
Pope Francis
Pope Francis made his comments at the end of his weekly Angelus address in St Peter's Square. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images



Pope Francis made an emotional plea for peace on Sunday in an impromptu addition to his weekly Angelus address in St Peter's Square.
Wrapping up his regular address to the faithful, the Argentinian-born pontiff spoke of the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war and said his thoughts were on the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine in particular.
His voice appearing to crack with emotion as he broke off from his scripted remarks to make a direct appeal for fighting to end, he said: "Please stop, I ask you with all my heart, it's time to stop. Stop, please."
The pope made no direct reference to the situation in Gaza, but his comments came after a humanitarian truce broke down on Sunday and fighting resumed. More than 1,000 people, mostly civilians and including dozens of children, have been killed since the outbreak of the current conflict.
"Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! I am thinking above all of children, who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life, of a future," he said. "Dead children, injured children, mutilated children, orphaned children, children whose toys are things left over from war, children who can't smile any more."
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sudanese woman spared death for apostasy meets Pope Francis

Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim at the Vatican
Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim at the Vatican. Photograph: AP



Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death for apostasy in May, sparking an international campaign to save her life





and in Rome


Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian Sudanese woman spared a death sentence for apostasy after an international outcry, has met Pope Francis after arriving in Italy.
The 27-year-old and her family were received at the pontiff’s guesthouse for just under 30 minutes in an atmosphere “of serenity and tenderness”, the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
“The pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous demonstration of constancy of faith. Meriam gave thanks for the great support and comfort which she received from the prayers of the pope and of many other people who believe and are of good will.”
Francis, 77, also wanted the meeting to have a symbolic aspect, Lombardi said. “With this gesture the pope wished also to show his closeness, attention and prayer for all those who suffer because of their faith and in particular Christians who suffer persecution or restriction to their freedom of religion.”
Earlier on Thursday, Italian television showed Ibrahim leaving the aircraft at Ciampino airport in Rome accompanied by her husband, two children and Italy’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli.
Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy in May, sparking an international campaign to lift the death sentence. More than a million people backed an Amnesty International campaign to get her released, with David Cameron, the British prime minister, and the US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson among world leaders who clamoured for her release.
While on death row, Ibrahim, a graduate of Sudan University’s school of medicine, gave birth in shackles in May. It was a difficult birth as her legs were in chains and Ibrahim is worried that the girl may need support to walk.
Ibrahim was told that her death sentence would be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse the baby.
Under the Sudanese penal code, Muslims are forbidden from changing faith, and Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men.
During her trial in Khartoum, she told the court that she had been brought up as a Christian, and refused to renounce her faith. She and Daniel Wani – an American citizen – married in 2011. The court ruled that the union was invalid and that Ibrahim was guilty of adultery.
Her convictions, sentences and detention in Omdurman women’s prison while heavily pregnant and with her toddler son incarcerated alongside her caused international outrage. After an appeal court overturned the death sentence, Ibrahim, Wani, and their two children tried to leave last month, but were turned back. The Sudanese government accused her of trying to leave the country with false papers, preventing her departure for the US.
Her lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, said he had not been told of her departure on Thursday.
“I don’t know anything about such news but so far the complaint that was filed against Meriam and which prevents her from travelling from Sudan has not been cancelled,” Mostafa told Reuters.
Ibrahim and her family had been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum.




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Taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/24/sudan-woman

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

As Christians Abandon Mosul, Pope Francis Prays for End of Persecution in Mideast

 
By Katherine Weber , Christian Post Reporter

July 22, 2014|8:30 am
 
Pope Francis prayed for an end to Christian persecution in the Middle East on Sunday, one day after Christians were forced to flee the village of Mosul in Iraq following threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a jihadist militant group.
While leading a moment of silence in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday, Francis said that Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East will be the subject of his “constant prayers.”
“Violence isn’t overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace,” the pope told the crowd gathered at St. Peter’s Square. “Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away.”
 
Pope Francis arrives for a meeting of the Renewal of the Holy Spirit organization at the Olympic stadium in Rome June 1, 2014.
pope francis
(Photo: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito)
 

The Catholic leader’s plea came one day after thousands of Christian families were forced to pour out of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city with a 6,000-year-old Assyrian history. The families chose to flee to northern Iraq, where they would be protected by Kurdish forces, after members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant demanded that they either pay the “jizya,” or tax for being non-Muslim, convert to Christianity, or die.
Members of the jihadist militant group announced the demand on Saturday, reportedly painting the doors of Mosul inhabitants who were Christian. In response, media outlets are reporting that the vast majority of Christians have fled the area, packing up their cars and family members and heading for safer areas in the north.
According to Fox News, while Iraq’s Christian population used to be about one million before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the number has since diminished to 450,000 as Islamic militants target Christian churches and pressure them into leaving the country.
Recently, Islamic militants have taken over the Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Orthodox cathedrals in Mosul. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako recently penned an open letter to Iraqis, warning them that the disappearance of Christians from the country could result in a serious humanitarian crisis.
“[…] for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Sako’s letter read, in part. “Iraq is heading towards a humanitarian, cultural and historical disaster,” the patriarch added.
Since June, the ISIS has made significant advancements in gaining security control in both Syria and Iraq. In response to the recent persecution of Christians in Mosul, Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has asked international humanitarian agencies to set up relief and aid for the thousands of Christian families displaced from their homes.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Jesus Christ Alone Holds the Key to Time









Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz’s comments below, as expressed in his radical revision of AD time,


 


Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?


 


regarding the difficulties associated with bringing to the academic community an entirely different-from-conventional chronological paradigm (and the AMAIC does not necessarily accept all of the Phantom Time Hypothesis theories or explanations), are highly applicable as well to the efforts by many to introduce a much-needed revision of ancient history.


 




 


.... How is it possible to do research work of this kind inside the scientific community? Is it perhaps necessary to research outside the scientific community, because it would demand a big change of paradigms, which means the end of certainty with regard to chronology. Usually a program of research relies on given research problems, which the general public defines. What will happen when the new research program in regard with its thesis or approach is too far from general public interest or too far from the academic society?


(Who shall give financial support?) Then we don’t have the capability of joining ‘normal science’. I am aware of standing on the shoulders of our predecessors and that we work using


their results, I can only emphasize again and again my respect for archaeologists and other


scientists who are able to uncover artifacts and construct theories on them.


I would like to repeat that our method consists in questioning specific research problems of


archaeology and historiography. I must emphasize that the thesis of the phantom years is one


proposal for solving those problems. It works surprisingly well and yields amazing results. It


seems that scientists today do not see the common pattern in all the problems, which repeatedly appear, because there exists an unexpressed and unconscious prohibition against questioning the chronology as if it were unimpeachable. My request therefore is: where and


how could our research work possibly join? What could we do together? Until today our research work was done marginally, but from now on it enters an important stage. The project


has become so big that it cannot be worked out by a few people with small resources. Support


from official institutions has become necessary so that we can continue our work at the edge


of specialty (“im Rand des Faches”) as suggests Krohn and Küppers; papers in their book “The self-organization of science(-society)”: “It is only through activities in the margin of scientific institutions that outsiders can amplify the disturbances, so that instabilities will appear, which in the end will restructure existing research.” (Krohn, Küppers 1989,95).


 


If some colleagues accuse us of unrealistic or even fantastic behavior, I wish to express that it


could not be a mortal sin in the business of science to question paradigms and slaughter holy


cows. In case we are forced to turn to the general public in order to raise funds, this strategy


will do as well. But: “One of the strongest but unwritten rules of scientific life is the interdiction against appealing to statesmen or to the general public in matters of science” (Kuhn 1970). Kuhn supposes: “As the unity of the scientific performance is a solved problem


and as the group knows well which problems are already solved, only few scientists would be


willing to take up a standpoint that reopens research on many already solved problems.”


(Kuhn 1970). Our thesis produces new problems and questions – especially seemingly solved


ones. But it promises to solve more problems than ever before in the historiography of the early Middle Ages.


What can I request from the historian, the archaeologist of the Middle Ages, the philologist


and the philosopher? What would I do in their place? Important is the need for discussion and


sponsorship. There exist two attitudes toward research: One of them is direct professional approach (history, archaeology, and philology); the other is discussing the theory of knowledge and science. Obviously our project is one of interdisciplinary research. Only in this way we can produce the expected change of paradigms with the necessary emotional distance. …

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pope Francis the Devil and the End Times

July 19, 2014

By ....



To most of the world, Pope Francis is the pope of the poor, foe of unrestrained free-market capitalism, reformer engaged in shaking up the Roman Curia, ecclesiological innovator committed to consultation, collegiality and decentralization in the governance of the ChurchFrancis is all that, but he’s also more — something his image as a social activist and agent of structural change might not lead you to expect.
In short, this pope is a believer in the end times who’s convinced they aren’t merely coming but are, in a sense, already being played out before our eyes. This, likewise, is someone who believes the devil is real and perceives a demonic hand at work in current events.
 
Read the whole article here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Apocalypse of Selfishness and The Shroud of Turin

 


“When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and lowering.' You know then how to discern the face of the sky, and can you not know the signs of the times?”

Matthew 16:2-4

It is my premise that the Shroud of Turin is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus, called Christ, and that it offers evidence that supports the claim of his resurrection within three days of his crucifixion. The scientific examination of the Shroud began with the Secondo Pia photographs in 1898. Until then, the facts concerning the death and purported Resurrection were essentially matters of faith drawing on the four Gospels accounts, the Epistles of Christ’s apostles and oral traditions of cloudy provenance. There were even those who claimed that Christ never existed at all. Science has now provided a rock of fact to which believers may cling. But so what?
Here’s what: Humanity now faces an apocalyptical extinction as a species. Revelations and other apocalyptical writings have been until now mystical allegories and metaphors. But science is not prophesying in metaphors or allegories ‑ its prophecies of doom are based on hard facts.

The Apocalypse that threatens us is an apocalypse of selfishness. The heedless exploitation of our environment has resulted in multiple crises that demand immediate, concerted international cooperation and action, but the very apostles of selfishness that are driving humanity to the brink of extinction bar our way.

For prophecy of an apocalypse, let us turn to the current Roman Catholic Pope.

Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples.

Pope Francis
¶216 Evangelii Gaudium


Despite some criticisms from conservative elements in the Church, Francis has not retreated from his elevation of the environment to a religious issue. On May 21, 2014, Pope Francis told an audience; “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us.”

Is Francis right? Was his statement hyperbole or prophecy? Creation destroying us! Is he prophesying an Apocalypse?
 
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