Church

Pope Francis’ Visit To The USA In 2015

493462723

Archbishop Charles Chaput has that:

Pope Francis has accepted an invitation to visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to attend the Catholic church’s World Meeting of Families in 2015, confirmed Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Caput on Thursday. The World Meeting of Families will take place from September 22- 27, 2015.

“Pope Francis has told me that he is coming,” said Caput, who made the announcement before his homily at the opening Mass of the Tekakwitha Conference, which is “an Indigenous Catholic religious non-profit international organization. “The pope will be with us the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of that week,” he added, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

When in February of 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced that Philadelphia would be the site of the next World Meeting of Families, he also declared his intention to attend. Upon his resignation, there was speculation about whether Pope Francis would go, but until now the visit had not been confirmed.

Pope Francis has yet released details of other potential cities to visit during the planned U.S. visit. He has received invitations to other cities including New York and Washington D.C., according to Catholic News.The National Catholic Reporter pointed out that given the tendency of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to take place in September, there is a chance that the pope may stop there.

The Associated Press notes that the Archdiocese has not officially confirmed the visit, despite Caput’s remarks:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Philadelphia Archdiocese says there is still no confirmation that Pope Francis will attend a major gathering of the world’s Roman Catholics next year in the city, despite a report that the archbishop had said Francis would come.

The Catholic News Service reports that Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput (SHAP’-yoo) said Thursday in North Dakota that “Pope Francis has told me that he is coming” to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.

But the archdiocese cautioned Friday that Chaput’s comments weren’t official confirmation. A Vatican spokesman also tells The Associated Press that although Francis has said “he is willing” to attend, there is “no operating plan or preparations underway” for a visit.

Francis has yet to visit the U.S. as pope, and the question of whether he will attend the Philadelphia gathering has drawn intense speculation.

And, further, CNS:

… Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said July 25 Pope Francis has expressed “his willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families” in Philadelphia, and has received invitations to visit other cities as well, which he is considering. Those invitations include New York, the United Nations and Washington.

“There has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or the Holy See of Pope Francis’ attendance at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event.”

It said Archbishop Chaput “has frequently shared his confidence in Pope Francis’ attendance at the World Meeting and his personal conversations with the Holy Father are the foundation for that confidence.”

“We are further heartened and excited” by Father Lombardi’s comments, it added. “While Archbishop Chaput’s comments do not serve as official confirmation, they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September.”

Some Mexican media have cited government officials saying a September trip to North America also could include stops in Mexico, but Father Lombardi said that at this moment “nothing operational has begun relative to a plan or program for a visit to the United States or Mexico. Keep in mind, there is still more than a year to go before the meeting in Philadelphia.”

Advertisements
Church

Will Christianity Ever Rise Again In Iraq?

CNN:

The destructive force of  the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the militant Sunni movement, is epitomized in a video released Thursday of ISIS members smashing a tomb in Mosul, Iraq.

The tomb is traditionally thought to be the burial place of the prophet Jonah, a holy site for Christians and many Muslims.

Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, is built on and adjacent to the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, the setting for the biblical book of Jonah and once the most powerful capital of the ancient world.

Indeed, for most people familiar with the Bible, Nineveh is inseparable from the figure of Jonah.

In Christian tradition, the story of Jonah is an important one. Jonah’s descent into the depths in the belly of the great fish and subsequent triumphant prophetic mission to Nineveh is seen as a reference to and prototype of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The destruction of his tomb in Mosul is therefore a direct assault on Christian faith, and on one of the few physical traces of that faith remaining in Iraq.

Despite its acknowledged antiquity, however, it is a virtual certainty that the tomb destroyed by ISIS was not that of the biblical prophet.

His purported tomb was in a mosque dating back to the time of the Muslim conquest in the middle of the first millennium. The mosque, known as the Mosque of the Prophet Yunus (Arabic for Jonah), was built on an even earlier Christian church that stood on the spot.

Officials: ISIS blows up Jonah’s tomb in Iraq

It’s likely that the association of the site with Jonah’s burial goes back to the early Christian period when the practice of linking geographical features with biblical figures was all the rage. (See: Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, David’s Tomb in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, etc.)

Jewish tradition suggests that Jonah returned to his hometown of Gath-Hepher after his mission to Nineveh (as we read in the book 3 Maccabees, from around the first century B.C.).

This was certainly the belief held by the church father Jerome, and was local tradition in Gath-Hepher in the 12th century and remains so today.

(Perhaps less likely is the rabbinic claim that his experience in the belly of the great fish was so terrible that God granted Jonah a rare exemption from the travails of death and he went up to heaven alive.)

In the end, speculations about the actual location of Jonah’s burial are probably moot, as virtually all scholars agree that the book is a work of pure fiction is perhaps even a comedic novella of sorts and that it is quite likely to have been written around the fifth century B.C., around 200 years after the city of Nineveh was destroyed.

But it is not the historical reality that is at stake in Mosul today.

The destruction of Jonah’s tomb was not an attack on archaeology. It was an attack on both those Christians living in Iraq today and on the rich, if little-known, Christian heritage of the region.

When people think of ancient Christianity, they don’t ordinarily think of Iraq. But the Christian communities there are among the oldest in the world.

According to church tradition, Christianity was introduced to the region by the Apostles Thomas and Thaddeus. These stories may be legendary, but by the second century we have references to Christian converts with names associated with the region and later histories refer to the persecution of Christians in Iraq in the fourth century. The Mar Behnam Monastery, for example, is believed to go back to the fourth century.

In the past two millennia, Iraq has been a center for Christian theological enquiry, learning and devotion. Important monasteries were built there in the sixth and seventh centuries, and various forms of ancient Christianity that had died out elsewhere persisted in Iraq into the 21st century.

Mar Mattai, which is to the southeast of Mosul and is maintained by the Syriac Orthodox Church, became one of the most important Christian monasteries by the eighth century, and was particularly renowned for its library.

The significance of Christianity in Iraq extends beyond even religion.

It is likely that Syriac monks were partly responsible for the preservation of Greek philosophical, medical and scientific texts by translating them into Syriac and Arabic. A ninth-century Syriac patriarch named Timothy wrote that the best Syriac manuscripts of Greek writers were to be found at Mar Mattai.

All that has been erased in a matter of days.

Last week, ISIS reportedly issued an ultimatum to Christians that they must convert to Islam, flee or face the sword. Earlier this month ISIS had allowed Christians to pay a non-Muslim tax known as jizya. On July 17, Christians were notified that jizya was no longer an option. They must now convert, flee or die.

Among the last Christians to leave the city were monks residents of the ancient Mar Behnam Monastery who left behind them 1,400 years of rich Christian tradition, as ISIS refused to let the monks take any of their precious relics with them.

Despite its antiquity and rich tradition, Christianity in Iraq is on the brink of eradication.

The heirs to those who first discovered the tomb of Jonah, and those who helped to keep Greek philosophy alive in the medieval period, are being ejected from their homes and from a land they have held sacred for centuries. This is the face and reality of Christian persecution.

Jonah was one of the earliest symbols of the resurrection for Christians. Will Christianity ever rise again in Iraq?

 

Church

Protestants and Catholic Row in Germany

As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches.

A fierce row between Catholics and Protestants in Germany is the result of a misunderstanding, a German theologian has claimed.

Lutheran leaders had invited the Catholic Church to join them in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther published his 95 theses.

Luther was opposed to the sale of indulgences, to the Bible not being in the vernacular and to the Church’s doctrinal position on justification through faith – all issues which have seen significant changes over the years.

In 1999 the Catholic and Lutheran Churches issued a joint declaration on the doctrine of justification which set out “a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ”. The declaration was widely seen as important in establishing common doctrinal ground between the Churches.

But when the German Evangelical church (EKD) issued a position paper “Justification and Liberty” in May it did not explicitly mention of the declaration.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said: “I could hardly believe it. That really hurt me”.

He said the EKD should “not forget what we have already formulated together”.

Now the row has escalated. According to the Tablet, Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen, deputy chairman of the German bishops’ conference’s ecumenical commission, said earlier this month that he was “incensed and disappointed” by the position paper.

“I really cannot actually see a reason for celebrating anything together any longer,” he said, calling the position paper “destructive”. Bishop Algermissen was quoted as saying that the Catholic Church had been given “one slap in the face after the other recently”, and that “the cat has now been let out of the bag”.

Professor Volker Leppin, a member of the group which drafted the EKD paper, told The Catholic Herald that “the EKD takes the protest of Cardinal Kasper very seriously” and that “we are willing to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with our Catholic sisters and brethren”. He said the position paper “expresses exactly this. It ends with the vision of a jubilee celebrated together with Catholics. And it starts with the statement that Protestants are able to find formulations of the doctrine of justification together with the Roman Catholic Church – an evident allusion to the joint declaration on justification of 1999.”

He continued: “The criticisms of Cardinal Kasper and Bishop Algermissen, regrettable as they are, are consequences of a misunderstanding of the text, and the EKD will do all the best to clarify these irritations. The clear will of the EKD is to celebrate the reformation jubilee in a peaceful, ecumenical context.”

On Monday the Bavarian EKD Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said he was “saddened by the sharpness of the discussion.
“You rub your eyes and ask yourself: what is happening?” he wrote, adding that he hoped “the waves flatten again in this case” and that the 2017 event is celebrated ecumenically as a “great Christ festival … as Luther would have wished, in my opinion”.

 

Culture

Israel Has A New President: Reuven Rivlin

Haaretz:

Israel's 10th president, Reuven Rivlin, center, at his swearing in ceremony.

Israel’s 10th president, Reuven Rivlin, took the oath of office in a small ceremony at the Knesset on Thursday evening, while fighting continued between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Due to the ongoing Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and the dozens of Israeli civilian and military casualties, Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein decided to limit the guard of honor and to cancel the cocktail party in the Chagall State Hall, which traditionally follows the swearing-in.

Rivlin will begin his term on Monday, but the ceremony was brought forward so it would not be held during the first days of the Hebrew month of Av, a traditional time of mourning.

The guests of honor at Thursday’s ceremony were mayors and local council heads from areas bordering the Gaza Strip. Contrary to normal protocol, they sat in the plenum hall itself, alongside Knesset members.

Knesset Members of Arab parties did not attend the ceremony. They announced that they were boycotting the official event not in protest of Rivlin personally, but of the fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and the deaths of Palestinian civilians there.

After Rivlin was sworn in, two shofars was blown…

Rest here.

 

Church

Iraq, militanti prendono controllo di sede governo provincia a Mosul

UCA News:

Apart from praying and lamenting, is there anything else that concerned outsiders, such as the Western churches, should be doing to help Christians and other religious minorities in northern Iraq? That is a real question, not least because Iraqi Christian leaders are in a quandary themselves.

Until a few weeks ago, Mosul and its environs remained a bastion, however depleted, of ancient Christian communities whose collective memory goes back to the faith’s earliest years. To understand the varieties of Iraqi Christian, you have to study theology. Some have roots in Nestorianism, which stressed the difference between the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. Some have their origins in the Miaphysite doctrine, holding that Christ had only one, divine nature. Within both categories, some have reconciled with the church of Rome, others haven’t.

Some (like most mainstream Christian churches) hew to the teaching laid down in 451 that Christ had both a divine nature and a human one but was a single person. All this helps to explain why a single Iraqi town can have several Christian bishops, each with his own sonorous titles. Chaldean Catholics (Christians with Nestorian roots who have been reconciled with Rome for 500 years) are the biggest group.

Exact figures about Iraqi Christianity are hard to come by. It is often asserted that about 400,000 to 500,000 Christians live in the country, down from a total before the 2003 war of perhaps 1.5m. Other observers think as few as 200,000 may be left. The majority of the remaining Christians live in the far north of the country.

Read more here.