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Monday, July 28, 2014

Will Tragedy Derail Pope Francis on Christian Unity?

Pope Francis, Bishop Tony Palmer and Rev. Kenneth Copeland

History sometimes turns on tragedies, leaving people to ponder what might have been. A new Catholic focus for that question is a random motorcycle accident last Sunday in England, and whether it may change the arc of Pope Francis’ papacy on ecumenism, meaning the push for unity among Christians.

Christians, of course, are fond of preaching peace and brotherhood, but anyone looking at the notoriously splintered Christian landscape can see they often don’t practice that gospel. Thoughtful leaders on all sides have long tried to mend differences, with little effect, and there has been mounting hope that Pope Francis will be the one to finally move the ball, in part because of his long history of friendship with other Christians.

Francis is set to travel on Monday to the southern Italian city of Caserta to see a few of his old Protestant friends, and to pray with them. The get-together unfolds under the shadow of the loss of someone who was supposed to be there, Bishop Tony Palmer of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, who got to know the future pope while ministering in Argentina.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2014



Iraqi Patriarch Appeals to UN to Assist Iraq's Christians

Patriarch Sako appeals to UN not to stand by and witness atrocities in Iraq

(Vatican Radio) The Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq has written to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking him to put pressure on international community to step up assistance to  Iraq’s Christians and minorities targeted by Islamic militants.

Below the text of the Patriarch’s letter 

His Excellency,

I am writing to you about the current situation in Iraq and the Middle East, which is of big concern to me and I know it is for you and the United Nations.  Let me also take this opportunity to thank you and the United Nations Security Council on the issued statement of condemnation against ISIS.  The instability in Iraq threatens the entire region.  Diplomatic pressure is sought to address the  growing instability in the Middle East. The instability in the region is worrisome because of the increasing attacks mounted on Christians and minorities.

We, as the Christian community, appeals to the United Nations to put political pressure on the international community, the Security Council cannot stand by and be a witness to the ongoing atrocities committed against Christians. We were happy when your statement acknowledged that the crimes committed against Christians constitute crimes against humanity, we therefore urge  you to put pressure on all to respect human rights.

Excellency, we Christians are peace-loving citizens  caught up in the middle of a clash between Sunnis and Shiites, as well as attacks from Military groups. Our community has suffered a disproportionate share of hardship caused by sectarian conflicts, terrorist attacks, migration and now even ethnic cleansing: the militants want to wipe out the Christian community.

We appeal urgently to the United Nations to pressure the Iraqi government and put into practice every effort to protect the ethnic and religious minorities. The new government, once established, should engage in the protection of minorities and the fight against extremism.

We urge the United Nations to accelerate humanitarian assistance, ensuring that aid reaches those communities and those vulnerable groups who are in need of urgent help. In view of the current situation, this need for assistance might take longer than a year. The displaced Christian community needs water, medicines and basic services.

We urge the United Nations to develop a plan or strategy to protect and preserve our heritage, looted and burned by the militants. They continue to burn churches and ancient monasteries. The old churches and monasteries will be difficult to rebuild.

+ Louis Raphael Sako

Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

KAL 007 and MH17 … A Presidential Response

From The Center for Vision & Values, Grove City College
By Dr. Paul G. Kengor

Editor’s note: A longer version of this article first appeared at The American Spectator.

This generation has its KAL 007. The stunning downing of Malaysian flight 17 is strikingly similar to the shock of September 1, 1983, when the Russians downed a Korean passenger airliner, flight 007, which had left New York City for Seoul via Alaska. In both cases, the Russian government vehemently denied any involvement, disparaging anyone who dared to accuse it of prior knowledge.

Both planes were Asian with similar numbers of dead. KAL had 269 passengers; the Malaysian flight nearly 300. They were mostly Asian passengers but also Americans—61 Americans in KAL 007 and a much smaller (still unconfirmed) number in the Malaysian flight. In both cases, questions arise over why the planes were flying where they were flying. Exactly what happened with KAL still isn’t entirely clear, but it seems the computer on the plane’s guidance system was set incorrectly, allowing it to stray into Soviet airspace. Russian fighter planes stalked KAL 007 before blasting it out of the sky.

In 1983, Moscow initially denied the dirty deed, with Yuri Andropov, Vladimir Putin’s former boss at the KGB, insisting on his country’s innocence. The denials were shattered when the Reagan administration produced audio of the two Russian pilots communicating as they excitedly shot the plane. The audio was secured via the National Security Agency’s exceptional electronic surveillance technology.

But a major difference between September 1983 and July 2014 is the initial reaction of the two presidents.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Iraq Catholic Leader Says Islamic State Worse than Genghis Khan

An Iraqi Christian boy fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul, stands inside the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Chaldean Church in Telkaif near Mosul, in the province of Nineveh, July 20, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Stringer

(Reuters) - The head of Iraq's largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis decried what he said was the persecution of Christians in the birthplace of their faith, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Islamic State's actions could constitute a crime against humanity.

Read more from Reuters >>