Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic

Middle East Patriarchs Meet Diplomats : Call for Wiping Out Terrorists

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Via OCP News:

BEIRUT (CNS) — Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of the Middle East denounced attacks on Christians and called upon the international community to work toward eradicating terrorist groups.
The patriarchs met Aug. 27 at the Maronite Catholic patriarchate at Bkerke, north of Beirut, for a special summit to address the crisis in the region. They were later joined by the United Nations’ special coordinator in Lebanon and the ambassadors of the five permanent member-countries of the U.N. Security Council.
“The very existence of Christians is at stake in several Arab countries — notably in Iraq, Syria and Egypt — where they have been exposed to heinous crimes, forcing them to flee,” the patriarchs said in a statement after the summit and meeting with diplomats.
They lamented the indifference of both Islamic authorities and the international community over attacks against Christians, who have been in the region for 2,000 years.
“What is painful is the absence of a stance by Islamic authorities, and the international community has not adopted a strict stance either,” the patriarchs said.
“We call for issuing a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) that forbids attacks against others,” they said.
“The international community cannot keep silent about the existence of the so-called ISIS,” the patriarchs said, referring to the Islamic State. “They should put an end to all extremist terrorist groups and criminalize aggression against Christians and their properties.”
The prelates’ meeting was a follow-up to their first summit Aug. 7. It also follows a trip by several of them to Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, to give moral and spiritual support to the flood of Iraqi minorities driven from the Ninevah Plain by the Islamic State militants.
The prelates stressed the need for cutting off the sources of terrorism and called on the world’s major powers to deprive extremist groups of resources by compelling countries financing them to stop their support.
Solutions to the Islamic State crisis must involve “dealing with the reasons that produced the miseries in the Middle East,” and harmony must be restored between the components of these countries, they said.
“The international community must act and eradicate” the Islamic State, the patriarchs said. “This is required from the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council.”
“We must stop using extremists, terrorists and mercenaries and (stop) supporting, financing and arming them,” they said.
They also stressed “the necessity of working to liberate the towns of Ninevah and facilitate the return of the displaced to their homes, in addition to ensuring the security of these towns with local and international guarantees to prevent displacement.”
The patriarchs denounced the “bleeding” that continues in Syria and said the conflict there must be solved by “dialogue and through a political solution.” They criticized the international community for not resolving the April 2013 kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops in Syria.
The prelates applauded the region’s Christians, who “are committed to the values of the Gospel and the teachings of Christ” exemplified in their relationships with others, “including their Muslim brothers, who live with them in the same nations.”

Read on here.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 30, 2014 at 14:09

Vatican Rejects Reports About Papal Assassination Plans

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Italian press report has claimed that Islamist terrorists were preparing to assassinate Pope Francis – Vatican spokesman Lombardi: “The Vatican does not harbor special concerns in this direction”

Vatican City (kath.net/KNA/red) The Vatican has denied a report according to which Islamist terrorists were preparing an assassination attempt on Pope Francis. This lacks foundation, in the words of Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. “There is nothing to be taken seriously. The Vatican does not harbor special concerns in this direction,” as the media quoted him on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Italian daily newspaper “Il Tempo” spread rumors, that fighters of the terrorist militia “Islamic State” were planning an attack on the Pope. Referring to Israeli sources, it was said that their leader, the self-styled “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had ordered attacks in Europe and in particular against Francis as “the greatest representative of the Christian Religion” and “support of false truth”.

Currently, the jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq, are coming to Italy, militia mingled with the numerous refugees coming across the Mediterranean. Last week the Italian media reported that Italy is reinforcing its security measures. But a concrete suspicion of terrorism did not exist.

During the general audience on 13 May 1981 in St. Peter’s Square Ali Agca, surrounded by about 15,000 people, made ​​an attempt on John Paul II. The Pope barely survived.  There is still nothing certain known about the actual motivations and instigators of the Turkish-Muslim assassin. This assassination-Shirt by Pope John Paul II. (Rome Reports, Eng.)

Source

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 27, 2014 at 21:39

Pope Francis Donates $1 Million to Iraqi Refugees

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has given $1 million as a personal contribution to help Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq who have been forced from their homes, according to his personal envoy to the country.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, visited Erbil as Pope Francis’ envoy from Aug. 12-20.
Erbil, where more than 70,000 Christians have fled from the Islamic State, is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and is within 50 miles of territory held by the Islamic State.
Cardinal Filoni met in private with Pope Francis the day after he returned to Rome and spoke to CNA Aug. 22.
Cardinal Filoni said he carried with him one-tenth of the Pope’s contribution and that “75% of the money was delivered to Catholics and the remaining 25% to the Yazidi community.”
The Islamic State is a recently established caliphate that has persecuted all non-Sunnis in its territory, which extends across swaths of Iraq and Syria.
“Pope Francis gave me a humanitarian mission, not a diplomatic mission, and this is what I always emphasized to Iraqi authorities,” Cardinal Filoni said.
The Pope’s decision to send a personal envoy to Iraq, the cardinal said, “meant to me that, if he had been able to go, he would have.”
Cardinal Filoni recounted that Pope Francis entrusted him with letters for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and Iraqi President Fuad Masum, presenting him “as his personal envoy and expressing his concern for what Christians and minorities in general are suffering, because they have been uprooted from their lands and persecuted.”
The Islamic State has forced more than 1.2 million Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims from their homes in Iraq, under threat of death or heavy fines if they do not convert.
In the face of such violence, Cardinal Filoni said intervention to stop the aggressor is a legitimate option.
“The Church does not back any war. The right to defend one’s self is legitimate. But our Christians in Iraq have no arms. Therefore, it is necessary that someone — in this case, the legitimate authorities of the country — should defend minorities, especially those most in danger.”

Read more here.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 25, 2014 at 20:50

North Korea Fires Projectiles As Pope Makes Historic South Korean Visit

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In the Huff Po:

North Korea fired three short-range projectiles into the sea less than an hour before Pope Francis arrived Thursday for the first papal visit to South Korea in 25 years, South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

The apparent test firing was conducted from Wonsan on the North’s east coast and flew about 220 kilometers (135 miles), according to a ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office policy. North Korea has a long history of raising itself to the top of its neighbors’ and Washington’s list of concerns.

North Korea this year has conducted an unusually large number of missile and artillery test firings. Pyongyang has expressed anger over ongoing annual military drills between the United States and South Korea.

Early Thursday, on a dispatch carried by Pyongyang’s official news agency KCNA, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea urged Seoul to scrap the joint U.S.-South Korea drills expected to start in coming days.

The type of projectile has yet to be determined. North Korea did not declare a no-sail zone before firing the projectiles.

Typical.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 14, 2014 at 11:42

Gardening for Christian Unity

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In the heart of Rome:


 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 5, 2014 at 15:30

Pope Begins Promoting Christian Unity

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Patriarch Bartholomew I (L) and Pope Francis in 2013

Theology and Society:

Enzo Bianchi — appointed on July 22 as consultor of the Pontificial Council for Promoting Christian Unity — said the Pope could allow a council of bishops, including Greek Orthodox bishops, to assist in governing the Church, the Catholic News website reports today (August 3, 2014).

Reform of the Synod of Bishops and the growth of synodality within the Catholic Church would greatly enhance the opportunity for union between Rome and the Orthodox churches by making the papacy less “monarchical” and the Catholic Church less centralized.

Bianchi — Prior of the Bose monastery in northeast Italy — said: “I believe that the pope wants to achieve unity by reforming the papacy.”

Pope Francis feels that union with the Orthodox Churches in particular is “an urgent goal,” Bianchi emphasized. “I believe that the Pope has one particular concern, that unity should not be achieved in the spirituality of unity but rather is a command by Christ which we must carry out,” he told the Italian daily “La Stampa.”

Reform would involve a new balance between collegiality and primacy, Bianchi explained. “The Orthodox have synodality, but not primacy. We Catholics have primacy but a lack of synodality.”

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 4, 2014 at 16:22

Up to 1 in 10 Roman Catholic Priests Are Former Anglicans (UK)

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The Tablet:

Up to one in 10 Catholic priests are former Church of England clergy, according to new figures.

Professor Linda Woodhead, a sociologist of religion at Lancaster University and organiser of the Westminster Faith Debates, worked with the Catholic bishops’ vocations director Fr Christopher Jamison OSB to establish that 389 Catholic priests are former Anglican priests, including 87 priests in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingam.

Currently it is estimated that in England and Wales there are 3,000 active diocesan priests, 800 retired priests, 1,000 religious priests and 700 deacons. Most of the Anglicans are believed to be working in parishes or chaplaincies.

Professor Woodhead told The Tablet that the Church of England clergy represented in these figures began to leave their original Church from 1994, when the first women were ordained priests. Those who left between 1994 and 2004 were provided with financial compensation amounting to 100 per cent of their stipend in year one, three-quarters in year two and two-thirds in year three. The payments amounted to £27.4 million over a decade.

She wanted to establish the veracity of reports that 400-500 priests and thousands of lay faithful had decided to join the Catholic Church, with many now serving as priests, including hundreds who are married.

She estimates that about 250 clergy “went across” between 1994 and 2000, with a further 52 from 2001, and then the Ordinariate clergy on top of that.

Professor Woodhead pointed out that the Catholic Church made the biggest gain from the moves given that there are 18,000 Anglican clergy compared with around 4,000 Catholic priests.

“So a relatively small loss of clergy numbers for the Church of England represents a very significant gift for the Catholic Church in England and Wales at a time of falling ordinations,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary, said in a homily at Portsmouth Cathedral that people sometimes asked members of the Ordinariate why they couldn’t become “proper Catholics.”

He said: “What they mean is, why can’t you just be absorbed into the wider Catholic Church so that what you bring disappears like sugar dissolved in water,” stressing that Christian unity was not about uniformity.

In September there will be events held by Ordinariate groups across the country to promote better understanding of the structure, set up to allow Anglicans to become Catholics while retaining elements of their identity.

 

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 3, 2014 at 22:54

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