Pope Francis accuses Chile sex abuse victims of slander

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Pope Francis accuses Chile sex abuse victims of slander

Pope Francis addresses youths at the Shrine of Maipu in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.

 AP

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander Thursday, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country.

Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.

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“As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all,” tweeted Barros’ most vocal accuser, Juan Carlos Cruz. “These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.”

The Karadima scandal dominated Francis’ visit to Chile and the overall issue of sex abuse and church cover-up was likely to factor into his three-day trip to Peru that began late Thursday.

Karadima’s victims reported to church authorities as early as 2002 that he would kiss and fondle them in the swank Santiago parish he ran, but officials refused to believe them. Only when the victims went public with their accusations in 2010 did the Vatican launch an investigation that led to Karadima being removed from ministry.

The emeritus archbishop of Santiago subsequently apologized for having refused to believe the victims from the start.

Francis reopened the wounds of the scandal in 2015 when he named Barros, a protege of Karadima, as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno. Karadima’s victims say Barros knew of the abuse, having seen it, but did nothing. Barros has denied the allegations.

His appointment outraged Chileans, badly divided the Osorno diocese and further undermined the church’s already shaky credibility in the country.

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Francis had sought to heal the wounds by meeting this week with abuse victims and begging forgiveness for the crimes of church pastors. But on Thursday, he struck a defiant tone when asked by a Chilean journalist about Barros.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis said. “There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

Francis had defended the appointment before, calling the Osorno controversy “stupid” and the result of a campaign mounted by leftists. But The Associated Press reported last week that the Vatican was so worried about the fallout from the Karadima affair that it was prepared in 2014 to ask Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops to resign and go on a yearlong sabbatical.

According to a Jan. 31, 2015, letter obtained by AP from Francis to the executive committee of the Chilean bishops’ conference, the plan fell apart and Barros was sent to Osorno.

Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of Osorno lay Catholics who have mounted a three-year campaign against Barros, questioned why Francis was now accusing the victims of slandering Barros when the Vatican was so convinced of their claims that it planned to remove him in 2014.

“Isn’t the pastoral problem that we’re living (in Osorno) enough to get rid of him?” Claret asked.

The reference was to the fact that – guilty or not – Barros has been unable to do his job because so many Osorno Catholics and priests don’t recognize him as their bishop. They staged an unprecedented protest during his 2015 installation ceremony and have protested his presence ever since.

Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online database BishopAccountability.org, said it was “sad and wrong” for the pope to discredit the victims since “the burden of proof here rests with the church, not the victims – and especially not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed.”

“He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis,” she said in a statement. “Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?”

Indeed, Catholic officials for years accused victims of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. But up until Francis’ words Thursday, many in the church and Vatican had come to reluctantly acknowledge that victims usually told the truth and that the church for decades had wrongly sought to protect its own.

German Silva, a political scientist at Santiago’s Universidad Mayor, said the pope’s comments were a “tremendous error” that will reverberate in Chile and beyond.

Patricio Navia, political science professor at Diego Portales University in Santiago, said Francis had gone much further than Chilean bishops in acknowledging the sexual abuse scandal, which many Chileans appreciated.

“Then right before leaving, Francis turns around and says: ‘By the way, I don’t think Barros is guilty. Show me some proof,'” Navia said, adding that the comment will probably erase any good will the pope had won over the issue.

Navia said the Karadima scandal had radically changed how Chileans view the church.

“In the typical Chilean family, parents (now) think twice before sending their kids to Catholic school because you never know what is going to happen,” Navia said.

‘Chop him up’: Accusers seethe over Cardinal Law’s funeral plans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Chop him up’: Accusers seethe over Cardinal Law’s funeral plans

Story highlights

  • Pope Francis will deliver a final blessing at Law’s funeral, the Vatican said
  • Some sex abuse survivors have urged against a “celebratory focus” on Law

(CNN)Alexa MacPherson says very little about Cardinal Bernard Law’s death — or the Catholic Church’s plans for a full cardinal’s funeral — gives her peace of mind.

MacPherson, a Boston-area native who says she is a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, says Law deserves no such dignity as the funeral that will be held for him at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Thursday.
Law, 86, died Wednesday, 15 years after he resigned as Boston’s archbishop amid allegations that he covered up for pedophile priests like the one accused of abusing MacPherson.
“With his passing, I say I hope the gates of hell are open wide to welcome him, because I feel … no redemption (for Law)” is worthwhile, MacPherson said Wednesday.
Robert Costello, another Boston-area native who says a priest abused him, and that Law covered for the cleric, was just as blunt.
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“Chop him up and put weights on every piece of body part that he has and drop him in oceans around the world,” Costello, 56, said.
Instead of being given a Vatican funeral, he said, Law should just “disappear.”
MacPherson and Costello vented to reporters Wednesday in the Boston office of attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents many who accuse priests of sex abuse.
Costello’s first thought upon hearing that Law died, he said, was, “Where’s the party? Where are we going to celebrate?”
“And then I realized it would be no celebration whatsoever,” he said. “It would be a meeting of people who tell their stories and bring it all back up again.”

Survivors’ group urges against pomp

The Vatican said early Wednesday that Law, 86, had died in Rome after a long illness. He served in Rome as archpriest of the Papal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major after he was forced to resign in 2002 as Boston archbishop.

Cardinal Bernard Law, seen here in Novemember 2012 at the Vatican, died after a long illness, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Critics say his reassignment to Rome amounted to a cushy second career that shouldn’t have been afforded him.
Widespread child abuse by the Catholic clergy in the Boston Archdiocese was uncovered by The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative reporting team, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its efforts. A big-screen dramatization of the team’s investigation in the 2015 movie, “Spotlight,” won the 2016 Best Picture Academy Award, bringing the story to a much wider audience.
The funeral plans for Law appear to follow the Catholic Church’s protocol for cardinals who die in Rome, even as a network of survivors of sex abuse by priests has publicly called on the Vatican to keep survivors in mind when planning the event.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate the funeral Mass, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the Vatican said. Pope Francis then will give a “final commendation,” or blessing, as he has previously for cardinals’ funerals.
Before the funeral plans were announced, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests had urged against a “celebratory focus” on Law.
“We highly doubt there is a single victim of abuse who will ever receive the same attention, pomp and circumstance by Pope Francis,” the network said in a news release after Law’s death.

From left to right, Robert Costello, attorney Mitchell Garabedian, Phil Saviano and Alexa MacPherson speak at Garabedian's Boston office about the death of Cardinal Bernard Law on Wednesday.

“Every single Catholic should ask Pope Francis and the Vatican why,” the group’s statement reads. “Why Law’s life was so celebrated when Boston’s clergy sex abuse survivors suffered so greatly? Why was Law promoted when Boston’s Catholic children were sexually abused, ignored, and pushed aside time and time again?”
The survivors’ network said the “celebratory focus on abuse enablers like Law must end.”
“It is time for the Vatican to refocus on change: protecting children and those who have been hurt,” the statement reads.

Law’s successor apologizes to victims

Law’s successor as Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, reacted to Law’s death in part by apologizing to victims of sex abuse by clergy.
“I recognize that Cardinal Law’s passing brings forth a wide range of emotions on the part of many people. I am particularly cognizant of all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones,” O’Malley said.
“To those men and women,” he added, “I offer my sincere apologies for the harm they suffered, my continued prayers and my promise that the archdiocese will support them in their effort to achieve healing.”
“Cardinal Law served at a time when the church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences,” O’Malley said.

‘Opening it all up again’

Phil Saviano, who also says a priest sexually abused him, told reporters Wednesday that he’s relieved Law is gone. Law had been in a position to do good and expose abusers, but instead chose to stand up for the priests, he said.
But relief is not the same as healing, he said.
“I had been hoping that the passing of Cardinal Law would remove a target of great anger and animosity and consternation that survivors have felt about him,” he told reporters at Garabedian’s office. “(But) it’s not a source of healing. It’s not a removal of the pain for survivors.
“If anything, it’s sort of like opening it all up again.”
MacPherson, like Costello, said she doesn’t feel like the Vatican should give Law the funeral that he’s getting.
“I think it should be very quiet and not celebrated.,” she said. “There’s nothing to celebrate (with) somebody who allowed children to be victimized and to have a lifetime of irreparable damage.”

Ex-Cardinal Bernard Law, symbol of church sex abuse scandal, dead at 86

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Ex-Cardinal Bernard Law, symbol of church sex abuse scandal, dead at 86

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law is pictured last year during a mass in Vatican City

Story highlights

  • Former Boston cardinal died after a long illness, Vatican says
  • He resigned as archbishop in 2002

(CNN)Bernard Law, the former Boston cardinal who resigned in disgrace during the church sex abuse scandal, has died, the Vatican has confirmed.

Law died in Rome, where he served as archpriest of the Papal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major after he was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston in 2002.
The Vatican issued a press release early Wednesday confirming the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, with one line reading “Cardinal Bernard Law died early this morning after a long illness.”
Law never faced criminal sanctions for his role in allowing abusive priests to remain in church parishes. The scandal reverberated through the church, exposing similar allegations worldwide that compromised its moral authority and led to years of multimillion-dollar settlements. To his detractors, his second career at the Vatican was a slap in the face to victims of church sex abuse, one that further undermined the church’s legitimacy.

Rise of Boston’s spiritual leader

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Law was born in Torreon, Mexico, on November 4, 1931, to Helen and Bernard Law, an Air Force colonel. He did his postgraduate studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Louisiana and at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He was ordained as a priest in the Natchez-Jackson, Mississippi, diocese on May 21, 1961 and became vicar general of the Natchez-Jackson diocese in 1971.
In 1973, he was made bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese in southern Missouri. He served as chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interracial Affairs and in 1976 he was named to the Vatican Commission on Religious Relations with Jews.
The posts were stepping stones to his becoming the spiritual leader of Boston’s large and influential Catholic community. In 1984, Pope John Paul II appointed Law to be the archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese, consisting of 362 parishes serving 2.1 million members. That same year, Law received a letter from a bishop expressing concerns about Rev. John Geoghan. Law assigned Geoghan to another parish despite the allegations.
In 1985, Pope John Paul II elevated Law to cardinal, one of just 13 Americans holding that office at the time.

Spotlight team investigates cover-up

The church sexual abuse scandal widened in July of 2001, when Law admitted receiving the letter in 1984 outlining the child molestation allegations against Geoghan. Geoghan was eventually convicted of indecent assault and battery on a 10-year old boy.
Law’s fall began in January 2002, one week after The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team revealed that he and other bishops before him covered for pedophile priests in the Boston Archdiocese. In a news conference, Law apologized to victims of abuse by Geoghan but insisted the abuse was in the past.
The Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into the widespread child abuse by the Catholic clergy. The scandal and investigation also inspired a film in 2015, which won the Oscar for best picture in 2016.

Calls for resignation

Law attempted to resign as Archbishop of Boston in April 2002, but Pope John Paul II rejected the resignation. In 2002, a judge presiding over the child rape case of Rev. Paul Shanley ordered Cardinal Law to be deposed by lawyers of one of Shanley’s victims.
Law testified about his supervision of Geoghan in 2002, saying he relied on his assistants to investigate charges of abuse. In May 2002, he apologized for his role in the clergy abuse scandal in a letter distributed throughout the archdiocese. But he denied knowledge of sexual abuse allegations against Shanley until 1993.
In August 2002, Law appeared in court to testify about a settlement reached between the archdiocese of Boston and victims of clergy abuse. The archdiocese rescinded the monetary offer shortly afterward.
In December, as calls grew for him to resign, Law was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury investigating “possible criminal violations by church officials who supervised priests accused of sexually abusing children.” Days later, he resigned as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America, followed by his resignation as archbishop of Boston.

Pope Francis wants Lord’s Prayer changed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

((OPED) WOULD IT NOT BE BEST TO USE THE ORIGINAL GREEK WORDING THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS WRITTEN IN, NOT THE LATIN, NOT THE ENGLISH?)(TRS)

Pope Francis wants Lord’s Prayer changed

Pope Francis addresses the crowds in St Peter's Square in the Vatican on 8 December 2016Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe Pope is suggesting changes to Christianity’s best-known prayer

Pope Francis has called for a translation of a phrase about temptation in the Lord’s Prayer to be changed.

The current wording that says “lead us not into temptation” is not a good translation, because God does not lead humans to sin, he says.

He suggests using “do not let us fall into temptation” instead, he told Italian TV on Wednesday night.

The Lord’s Prayer is the best-known prayer in Christianity.

The pontiff said France’s Roman Catholic Church was now using the new wording “do not let us fall into temptation” as an alternative, and something similar should be used worldwide .

“Do not let me fall into temptation because it is I who fall, it is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell,” he told TV2000, an Italian Catholic TV channel.

“A father does not do that, a father helps you to get up immediately.”

Since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has not shied away from controversy and has tackled some issues head-on, Vatican observers say.

Related Topics

How the World Is Marking the 500th Birthday of Protestantism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

How the World Is Marking the 500th Birthday of Protestantism

Oct 27, 2017

Five hundred years ago, an unknown monk named Martin Luther marched up to the church in Wittenberg, a small town in what is now Germany, and nailed a list of criticisms of the Catholic church to its door.

The date was Oct. 31, 1517, and Luther had just lit the fuse of what would become the Protestant Reformation. His list of criticisms, known as the 95 theses, would reverberate across world history. The Church would split, wars would be fought and people would be burned at the stake. It was the birth of Protestant Christianity.

Religiously speaking, the Reformation led to the translation of the Bible into languages other than Latin, allowing many people to engage with scripture for the first time. It also brought an end to the controversial sale of “indulgences” — payments the Church said reduced punishment for sins after death, which Luther regarded as corrupt.

More generally, the Reformation contributed to the expansion of literacy, with people no longer needing to rely on priests to read and interpret the Bible. Luther promoted universal education for girls and boys at a time when education was reserved for the wealthy, and believed in the connection between literacy and empowerment, both spiritually and socially.

Luther’s act is taught as one of the cornerstones of world history, even though most historians now agree that it was a relatively unremarkable event which was canonized at a later date for political ends. Nevertheless, it remains a lasting symbol of resistance 500 years later.

So how is an anniversary of that magnitude being celebrated?

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The hub of anniversary celebrations will be Luther’s homeland, Germany, where “Reformation Day” has long been celebrated as a holiday in certain states. This year, it’s set to be a full-blown national holiday. Chancellor Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, has encouraged German churches to promote a narrative of unity over division in their celebrations.

That’s a line that the Catholic Church and some of the biggest protestant denominations are also keen to stress. On last year’s 499th anniversary, Pope Francis joined leaders of the Lutheran World Federation in Sweden (where Lutheranism is the dominant religion) to hold a joint commemorative service. In his address, Francis said: “We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.”

Not long after Francis’ address, the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury in England expressed remorse for the violence committed there in the name of the Reformation. Hundreds of churches and monasteries were demolished in the 1500s, and many people gruesomely killed, during England’s pained transition from Catholicism to Protestantism.

After 500 years of division, there seems to be a consensus from the top that this anniversary will be one of reconciliation.

But official church celebrations aren’t the only ways in which the milestone is being marked.

In popular celebrations Germany also leads the way, and for proof you need look only as far as its toy economy. In 2015, a commemorative Martin Luther figurine from Playmobil became the German company’s fastest-selling product ever. It took just 72 hours for the initial run of 34,000 to sell out, leading the company to rush another batch into production. A spokesperson labeled the demand a “big mystery.”

Martin Luther is now the best selling @playmobil of all time – with 750,000+ sold! 

RT for the chance to win your own! (GK)

Americans are also doing their bit. A musical entitled Luther: The Rock Operapremiered in Wittenberg earlier this year. The North Dakota pastor responsible for the two-and-a-half hour production describes it as “Hamilton meets Jesus Christ Superstar meets Monty Python.” Performances in Berlin and Wittenberg will mark the anniversary.

And, as the anniversary falls each year on the same day as Halloween, around the world people are taking inspiration from Luther for their costumes. On Reddit’s Christianity subreddit, a post asked whether it would be sinful to dress up as Martin Luther for Halloween. On Twitter, others had no qualms about their plans to do the same, whilst on Amazon, a search for “Martin Luther Costume” turns out enough results to dress a small congregation.

In honor of the 500th anniversary of the reformation, I say we all dress up as Martin Luther for Halloween and nail stuff to people’s doors.

Back in Germany, the broadcaster ZDF is airing a two-part serial entitled “Reformation” commissioned especially for the anniversary, starring Maximilian Brückner as Martin Luther. It is also airing in the U.K. on the BBC, and both channels have also commissioned special documentaries to mark the occasion.

The town of Wittenberg itself is understandably excited; in fact it’s already in the tenth year of a “Luther decade” it proclaimed in 2008. On the anniversary, a “Reformation festival” will see “jugglers, musicians, hosts, craftsmen and people from the Middle Ages” gather in the town center, before the church opens for a commemorative concert in the evening.

For some people, this anniversary may be the first they’ve heard of Luther and the Reformation. But the wide range of celebrations, exhibits, documentaries and even commemorative toys mean that it’ll be hard to escape its legacy, 500 years on.

Colombian rebels ask Pope for forgiveness

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Colombian rebels ask Pope for forgiveness

Colombian President: Pope has ‘tremendous leadership’

Villavicencio, Colombia (CNN)Amid lush greenery and tropical humidity, Pope Francis touched down in Villavicencio on Friday, bringing his message of peace to one of the most notorious sites of guerrilla warfare in Colombia for the past 50 years.

Here, in one of the last major cities before the vast expanse of the Amazon, the Pope listened to powerful testimonies from ex-guerrilla fighters and from victims of their violence, such as Pastora Mira Garcia, who lost her father, husband and two children during the civil war.
“Do not be afraid of asking for forgiveness and offering it,” the Pope told them. “It is time to defuse hatred, to renounce vengeance.”
It is a message the Pope has echoed throughout this five-day visit in the country, aiming to help Colombians, many of whose memories are still fresh with crimes committed against them, embrace the historic peace agreement reached in December 2016.

Rebels ask for forgiveness

There are signs that Francis’ words may be having an effect.
In an open letter to the Pope published on Friday, Rodrigo Londono, former leader of the leftist guerrilla group FARC, asked for forgiveness from Francis for the actions of his group during five decades of war.
“Your repeated expressions about God’s infinite mercy move me to plead your forgiveness for any tears and pain that we have caused the people of Colombia, Londono wrote.
At a Mass on Friday, Pope Francis beatified two Catholic priests who were murdered during the years of the civil war, calling their martyrdom a sign “of a people who wish to rise up out of the swamp of violence and bitterness.”
Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca was kidnapped and shot twice in the head by Colombian Marxist guerrillas in 1989.
The Rev. Pedro Maria Ramirez Ramos, known asNM! the “martyr of Armero,” was killed at the start of the Colombian civil war in 1948. The conflict claimed an estimated 220,000 lives.

Pope meets Venezuelan bishops

On Thursday, in an unscheduled private meeting, Pope Francis briefly spoke with bishops who had come from Venezuela.
Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, told reporters in Bogota that the bishops had come to ask the Pope for help for the “desperate situation,” in their country.
“There are people who eat garbage,” Urosa said, “yes, the garbage, and there are people who die because there is no medicine.”
“So we want to remind the Pope of this again and especially the serious political situation, because the government is doing everything possible to establish a state system, totalitarian and Marxist.”
Francis continues his visit in Medellin on Saturday and Cartagena on Sunday, before returning to the Vatican later that evening.

Pope Francis Gives A Message Of Tolerance And Peace At A Mass In Cairo Egypt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Cairo (CNN) Pope Francis sent a message of tolerance and co-existence Saturday in a Mass at a Cairo stadium before concluding his two-day trip to Egypt.

Francis’ trip came nearly two weeks after the Palm Sunday bombing of two Coptic churches, which left at least 45 people dead.
Heavy security surrounded Francis as he entered Cairo’s Air Defense Stadium in an open golf cart.

Security surrounds Pope Francis at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo.

He waved at worshippers and stopped momentarily to bless a group of children in costume. Parts of the stadium stands were draped with his photo as well as Egyptian and Vatican flags.
“Religiosity means nothing unless it is inspired by deep faith and charity,” Francis said.
“True faith is one that makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane,” he said.
“God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity! Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him.”
The Pope started his Mass with the “As-Salaam Alaikum,” the traditional Muslim greeting in Arabic that means “Peace be upon you,” and ended it with “al-Masih qam! Bi-l-haqiqa qam! (Christ is risen! He is truly risen)”.
A Vatican spokesman said 15,000 people attended the Mass at the stadium, which holds 30,000.
The Pope later met with members of Egypt’s small Coptic Catholic community at St. Leo’s Patriarchal Seminary in Cairo’s Maadi neighborhood.
In a more intimate setting than his earlier Mass, Francis urged gathered priests, nuns and worshippers to be the religious builders of peace in Egypt, saying that despite “difficult circumstances, you must endure.”
“Although there are many reasons to be discouraged, and many prophets of destruction and condemnation … may you be the sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue and harmony,” he said.
Later Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and an honor guard met the Pope at the airport in a farewell ceremony before he departed for Rome.

Tackling roots of violent extremism

On Friday, Francis stressed the importance of unity between Muslims and Christians to shape world peace.
“Let us say once more a firm and clear ‘No!’ to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God,” he said in Italian in a speech at a peace conference at Al-Azhar University, the premier seat of high learning among Sunni Muslims.
Francis met with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb and became the first pontiff to visit the institution since Pope John Paul II in 2000.
The two religious leaders spoke at the closing of the International Conference for Peace, organized by Al-Azhar. Greeting the grand imam, Francis called him “my brother” and sat by his side at the conference.
The Pope took on a familiar theme: the roots of violent extremism.

Eliminating poverty and exploitation

Francis opened his speech with “As-Salaam Alaikum” after the imam’s address.
“In order to prevent conflicts and build peace, it is essential that we spare no effort in eliminating situations of poverty and exploitation where extremism more easily takes root, and in blocking the flow of money and weapons destined to those who provoke violence,” he said.
Francis called for an end to the “proliferation of arms” and lambasted “demagogic forms of populism.”
“If they are produced and sold, sooner or later they will be used,” he said. “Only by bringing into the light of day the murky maneuverings that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented. National leaders, institutions and the media are obliged to undertake this urgent and grave task.”
Tayeb addressed the status of faith in modern life.
“With all these accomplishments (of the 21st century), how come peace has become a lost paradise? The answer, I assume, is that modern civilization has ignored religion,” he said.
After the peace conference, Francis and the Egyptian President addressed religious and political dignitaries at Al-Masa Hotel.
The Pope, again speaking in Italian, focused on Egypt’s role in fighting terrorism, evoking events from biblical and modern history. He ceremonially greeted all Egyptian people, including minority Christians — Coptic Orthodox, Greek Byzantines, Armenian Orthodox, Protestants and Catholics.

12-point declaration

Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, then greeted Francis at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbassiya district, state TV said. They walked together in procession and took part in ecumenical prayers at the adjacent church of St. Peter, the site of a deadly blast in December that left at least 23 people dead.
Francis commended the efforts of Tawadros II, whom he called a brother, in organizing meetings between the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Francis and Tawadros II signed a joint, 12-point declaration reiterating the fraternity between their churches. “Let us intensify our unceasing prayer for all Christians in Egypt and throughout the whole world, and especially in the Middle East,” the declaration says.

Revelation Chapter #11

 

Chapter 11 deals with the time period concerning the closing of the great Tribulation Period. This chapter has a total of 19 verses, the first 14 are speaking to us of the period between the 6th and the 7th Trumpets. The last 5 verses are concerning the sounding of the 7th Trumpet of God. In chapter 10 the Scriptures mentioned 3 Personalities yet to this point in time only one has been spoken of and that was the Angel who held the ‘Little Book’ and stood upon the Earth and the Sea. This Angel was claiming all of creation for the Creator of all things as it is only He (God) who has the right to do so. In these first 14 verses we will discover the other two Personalities spoken of in chapter 10. These other two are the ‘two Witnesses’ that will testify for God and against humans sins here on Earth after they come down from Heaven to Jerusalem. There is a TV program called ‘Sleepy Hollow’ that my wife and I like to watch that is ‘very loosely’ concerning the ‘end of days’ where the two lead actors are the ‘two Witnesses’. I like the show but I do worry a bit that some folks may think the program is actually Scripture based concerning God’s two Witnesses and reality is that the program and the Scriptures have nothing to do with each other.

 

Please bare with me now as we go through these 19 verses, this is a very informative chapter that I believe will help people to understand the truth behind what is going to happen.

“And there was given to me (the Apostle John) a reed like unto a rod: And the Angel (the mighty Angel from chapter 10) stood, saying, rise, and measure the Temple of God and the Altar and them that worship therein.”

“But the Court that is outside the Temple leave out and do not do not measure it. For it is given unto the Gentiles (non-Jews): They (Gentiles) shall tread under foot the Holy City (the New Jerusalem which will come down to Earth from Heaven) for forty-two months.”

“And I (God) will give power to My two Witnesses and they shall prophesy (preach) one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in Sackcloth.”

“These (Witnesses) are the two Olive Trees and the two Candlesticks standing before the God of the Earth.”

“And if any man will hurt them, fire will come forth out of their mouth and devour their enemies. If any man will try to hurt them, he will in this manner be killed.”

“These (2 men) will have the power to shut heaven so that it will not rain in the days of their prophecy. And they will have power over the waters to turn them to blood and to smite the Earth with all plagues, as often as they wish.”

“And when they have finished their testimony, the Beast (Devil) that ascends out of the Bottomless Pit (Hell) shall make war against them (the 2 Witnesses) and shall overcome them and kill them.”

“And their dead bodies shall lay in the street of the great city (Jerusalem), which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

“And the people of all the kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half and shall not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.”

“And they that dwell upon the Earth shall rejoice over them (their dead bodies), and make merry and shall send gifts one to another; because these two Prophets had tormented them that dwell on the Earth.”

“And after three and a half days the Spirit of life from God shall enter into them and they shall stand upon their feet and great fear shall fall upon them that see them.”

“And they shall hear a great voice from Heaven saying unto them (the two Witnesses), come up hither. And they shall ascend up to Heaven in a cloud and their enemies shall see them.”

“And in the same hour there shall be a great earthquake and a tenth part of the city (Jerusalem) shall fall. And in the earthquake seven thousand men shall be slain. And the rest shall be frightened and they shall give glory to the God of Heaven.”

“The second woe is past and behold the third woe shall come quickly.”

“And the seventh Angel sounded (his trumpet) and there were great Voices in Heaven, saying, the Kingdoms of the world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”

“And the four and twenty Elders which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces and worshiped God.”

“Saying, we give thee thanks, O Lord God almighty, which is and was and are to come. Because You have taken to Thee Thy great power and has reigned.”

“And the Nations were angry and Thy (God’s) wrath is come. And the time of the dead that they should be judged. And that You (God) will give reward unto Your servants the Prophets and to the Saints and to them that fear Thy Name, small and great. And You (God) will destroy them which destroy the Earth.”

“And the Temple of God was opened in Heaven and there shall be seen in His Temple the Ark of His Testament. And there were lightnings and voices and thunderings and an earthquake and great hail.”

 

The Protestant Bible that most of us know as the King James Bible was authorized by King James of England in 1611. There were many books that were considered to be canonized (included) in the Bible that were turned down. Different ‘Christian’ religions like the Catholic Church added some of these other books in what we refer to as the Apocrypha. It is not just the Catholic Church that has chosen to add some ‘uncanonized’ books to their Bibles. This is true of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Cryptic Christians of Egypt and several others.

 

There are two of these books that I would like to bring to your attention for a moment. These two are called the Book of Enoch (seventh in lineage from Adam) which even Jesus (Yeshua) quoted, and the Book of Nicodemus. These two Books do give us information in regards to these two Witnesses of God. I want you to think about something for a moment please. Jesus Himself was murdered, all of the Apostles except John were murdered, but he did die, just about all of the Old Testament Prophets were murdered, but they all did die. Everyone in human history has died, except for two men. These two men were ‘called up to Heaven’ while they were still alive. These two men were Enoch and then Elijah. I have found no Scripture that says the two Witnesses are these two men so this is only my belief but if I was a betting man (which I am not) I would bet a cold six pack of Pepsi that it is these two men. Think about it for a moment, both of these Witnesses that came down to Earth from Heaven will end up being murdered also, thus completing the cycle of life and death. It is possible that my thoughts on this are incorrect, but I believe there is a huge chance that I am correct. Does it really matter if I am right on this issue? No, not really, it is just input for you to consider if you so choose to.

 

Well friends, that is all for tonight concerning the 11th chapter of Revelation, I hope you enjoyed your read. If you have any questions please leave me a comment and I will get back with you, usually within 24 hours. I hope you are having a good week, stay safe, God’s blessings to you and all of your loved ones, shalom.

Brazilian cardinal who blamed state for murder of Jew dies at 95

Paulo Evaristo Arns defied regime over death of Jewish journalist and political prisoner Vladimir Herzog in 1975

Source: Brazilian cardinal who blamed state for murder of Jew dies at 95

Another African President Decides To Become A King/Dictator In The Congo?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE GUARDIAN’ NEWS AGENCY)

The Observer view on Congo and the failure of democracy in Africa

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the latest country disintegrating because a leader wants to hang on to power
Joseph Kabila promised not to seek a third term as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Joseph Kabila promised not to seek a third term as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photograph: Reuters

Two decades ago, the Democratic Republic of Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country, was engulfed in what became known as Africa’s Great War, a conflict that drew in half-a-dozen neighboring countries and raged for five years from 1998.

The conflict and its aftermath cost the lives of an estimated 5.4 million people, mainly from starvation and disease. This epic disaster was largely ignored outside Africa, even though it was the developed world’s insatiable demand for the DRC’s mineral riches that helped to fuel it.

The war was halted, in part, by the introduction of a new constitution and a democratic system of governance, replacing decades of Mobutu Sese Seko’s brutal dictatorship. In 2006 Joseph Kabila was confirmed as DRC president by popular vote, although the fairness of the election was widely disputed. In 2011 he was re-elected. Again, the results were hotly contested. A key factor in their acceptance was his pledge to honour the constitution and refrain from seeking a third term.

The DRC’s next presidential election is due next month. It isn’t going to happen. A court last week upheld a request by the election commission that the poll be postponed, ostensibly because voter rolls are incomplete. A “national dialogue” by the ruling coalition and involving fringe parties and civic groups, but boycotted by the main opposition and Catholic church, also agreed a delay until at least April 2018. In effect, Kabila and his security force backers have compromised the constitution and the judiciary and engineered a silent coup. His solemn 2011 promise has been broken.

This shameless subversion of the democratic process (parliamentary and provincial polls have also been put off) was condemned by the main opposition party, the UDPS, as a “flagrant violation”. Rassemblement (Gathering), the multi-party opposition organisation, reacted with fury and called a general strike last Wednesday. Kabila’s attempt to cling to power threatens the DRC’s hard-won and still precarious stability. Worse, it risks a return to national and regional upheaval, violence and war. At least this time the world is paying more attention. Maman Sambo Sidikou, the senior UN official in the country, warned the UN security council last week that “large-scale violence is all but inevitable” if the impasse is not resolved. “The tipping point could be reached very quickly.” After related clashes in Kinshasa last month, in which at least 50 people died, the US imposed limited sanctions on army generals implicated in human rights abuses. On Monday EU foreign ministers also agreed to pursue possible punitive measures.

Matters are not as clear-cut as they might seem. Kabila denies he wanted the delay. Analysts suggest the president, thrust into office after his father was assassinated in 2001, is a front man for the security apparatus. The opposition is fragmented and its readiness to resort to protests often leads to violence. Concerns over stability by countries such as France and Belgium are not wholly disinterested, commercially speaking. But that the leadership of another African country appears ready to ride roughshod over democracy and laws is clear. The DRC has never had a peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960. This is why term limits are so important. Last year the presidents of Burundi, Rwanda and Congo-Brazzaville overrode constitutional requirements that they step aside. In Burundi’s case, violence and displacement resulted. In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni looks determined to go on for ever. Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean “presidency for life” and José Eduardo dos Santos’s Angolan ascendancy provide further examples of endemic disregard for democratic principles.

It would be a mistake to think Africans care less about self-serving, corrupt and irresponsible politicians than Europeans or Americans. The African Union has repeatedly stressed peaceful political transitions in embedding democratic habits. Studies show African voters value democratic systems but are increasingly frustrated at their malfunctioning and wilful subversion.

Nigeria demonstrated last year how it could be done. But South Africa, ruled since apartheid’s end by a single, over powerful party, is less of a shining light. It’s reported decision to renounce the International Criminal Court is another sign that too many African politicians would rather jettison democratic and legal norms than subject themselves to scrutiny and public judgment.