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Posts tagged ‘Vatican’

Defiant Chinese Bishop Dies at 97 While under House Arrest.


A Shanghai bishop who was imprisoned for decades by Chinese authorities died Sunday evening at his home, a Catholic group said in a statement.

Bishop Fan Zhongliang, 97, was ordained by Pope John Paul II but not recognised by Chinese authorities.

China is home to between 8 and 12 million Catholics, divided between the state-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which appoints its own bishops, and an “underground” church that is loyal to the Vatican.

Fan spent more than 30 years in prisons and labor camps over the course of his life, starting in 1955, according to the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, which reports on the treatment of Catholics in China. He was under house arrest when he died.

Supporters held a mass at Fan’s apartment immediately after his death, the foundation said, but Shanghai government officials ordered the body to be transfered to a funeral home after the service.

The government denied Fan’s supporters’ request to hold his funeral at a large cathedral, instead designating a smaller courtyard at the funeral home, the statement said.

China and the Vatican broke off formal diplomatic relations shortly after the ruling Communist Party took power in 1949.

Both the Vatican and China agreed to ordain a bishop in Shanghai, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, in 2012, but government authorities arrested him after he stepped down from the Catholic Patriotic Association around the same time.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

One Year Later, Pope Remains a Mystery.


Image: One Year Later, Pope Remains a Mystery

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 10:01 AM

By Robert Royal

This week marks the first anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. It’s one of the great paradoxes of his papacy that this man, hailed from the first for his simplicity and humility, has generated more puzzlement than any pope in modern memory.

Quite apart from the usual media ineptness, which almost always reads religious questions in crude terms of left and right, in some ways that’s no surprise. Simplicity is never as simple as it looks. In fact, simplicity is so rare that it’s hard to follow for most of us, whose heads typically buzz with half-formed theories and distorting pre-conceptions. And that’s when we’re even trying to pay attention. It takes real work to get to clarity or simplicity – about anything.

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

I was in St. Peter’s Square last year when Francis stepped out on the balcony. His first words as pope, “Buona sera,” marked him out as strongly as John Paul II’s famous “Be not afraid!” in the same situation. When he bowed and asked the crowd to pray for him – often misreported as asking for “the blessing” of the people – his image in the media, rightly or wrongly, was settled: a humble man, trying to reform the Church, eliminate harsh rules, and welcome the whole world.

Subsequent interviews, of course, have raised questions about just how his whole vision fits together. Whatever the answer to those questions – and they cannot simply be wished away, as some would like – it’s not “simple.”

He’s repeatedly said he’s a “man of the Church” and, of course, believes all that the Church teaches. But we’ve also had the unfortunate static introduced by stray remarks such as: “Who am I to judge?” about gays; last week’s “civil unions” comment; mounting pressure in the Vatican itself, it appears, to change teaching about divorced and remarried people being able to receive Communion. His real positions are more nuanced and different than the wishful thanking of many reporters and dissenters, and attract wide attention because of the pope’s palpable spontaneity and infectious charisma. Still, they’re not always easy to parse out.

Just this week, a clever article appeared comparing the pope’s American and practical bent to the pragmatism of William James and Charles Saunders Pierce, contemporary philosophers Alasdair MacIntyre and Slavoj Zizek, and other anti-theoretical theorists. I don’t know if that’s the case – no one can. And it’s more than a little odd to invoke these heavyweights to explain Jorge Bergoglio. But if true, it would mean that the pope resembles President Obama when he claims that he’s “not very ideological” and is only interested in “what works.” There’s a lot of complex theory packed into that seemingly simple goal.

For instance, he’s miles beyond movements like the old Liberation Theology with its limping Marxist praxis. Some American conservatives claimed, absurdly, that Francis is a Marxist merely for saying the global economic system must be re-ordered to help the poor and marginalized.

We should give the pope – and Karl Marx – a little more credit than that. Marxism offered itself as “scientific” socialism that would inevitably replace false economic and political systems. An engineer who built a bridge on a “science” that failed so spectacularly would be in jail.

Francis is nobody’s fool and quite aware of all that. Like all modern popes, he knows that he doesn’t know how to get to where he’d like us to be. That’s a job for others – he’s merely pointing the way. Besides, as we see every day, no one is really in charge of the global economy or the international political order. We muddle around trying to respond to economic crises, smooth out regional conflicts, and give some semblance of international law to the world. But the world is fallen, as are we ourselves. Maybe that’s why Francis’ description of the Church as a kind of “field hospital” during a battle made such an impression.

The world likes him to talk about politics and justice – and who, by the way, is against improvements in either realm? Talking about poverty and inclusion, which John Paul II and Benedict XVI did as well (but received little credit for), helps the journalistic narrative that the pope wants to turn away from neuralgic sexual and life issues.

But Francis has also often denounced the throwaway culture that thinks children in the womb are disposable. And he’s even called Pope Paul VI “prophetic” for holding onto the ancient Christian teaching on contraception, not that long ago the common understanding in all Christian churches. You didn’t hear about that? Maybe you should send a letter to the editor. But don’t get your hopes up.

Still, to be frank, it didn’t help when, early in his papacy, Francis spoke of Catholics not always “insisting” and “obsessing” about abortion and similar questions – perhaps a beginner’s stumble. More recently, he’s said to interviewers that he wishes to be careful because his every word is scrutinized and, he fears, sometimes misunderstood.

So, at least for now, we are left with an enigma. We have a remarkable pope, a man who has an uncanny ability to reach out and electrify the whole world with an uncommon touch. John Paul II did the same, though in a more public, less personal way. We also have a pope with a deep appreciation of our moment, and therefore is not reluctant to put his name to Lumen fidei, the brilliant analysis of the state of things, largely written by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, with whom – pace the troublemakers in the media – he has warm relations.

And yet, after this first year, we remain puzzled about how, exactly, all these different parts of him fit together. The workings of the Holy Spirit are often a mystery. And that, for the time being, may be the best answer, while we follow this singular shepherd, to all our queries.

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is ”The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West,” now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Poll: Pope Very Popular in United States, but No ‘Francis Effect’.


Image: Poll: Pope Very Popular in United States, but No 'Francis Effect'Pope Francis blesses the altar during Ash Wednesday at Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome on March 5.

One year after his election, Pope Francis is “immensely popular among American Catholics,” a survey said on Thursday, but there is no sign of a “Francis effect” inspiring more to attend Mass or do volunteer work.The Washington-based Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Catholics in the United States viewed the Argentine-born pontiff favourably, with 51 percent reporting a “very favourable” view of him, while only 4 percent expressed a negative opinion.

Among Catholics, 68 percent thought he represented “a major change for the better,” a view shared by 51 percent of the non-Catholics responding to the poll in telephone interviews of 1,340 Americans from Feb. 14 to 23.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.
But the poll also found the rock-star status of the pope, whose simple style has attracted record crowds to the Vatican and won Time magazine’s Man of the Year title for 2013, has not clearly translated into greater lay participation in the church since his surprise election on March 13, 2013.

“There has been no measurable rise in the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholic,” the survey said. “Nor has there been a statistically significant change in how often Catholics say they go to Mass.”

Forty percent of Catholics said they were now praying more often and 26 percent were “more excited” about their faith, but their frequency of going to confession or volunteering at church has not changed.

RISING EXPECTATIONS

“If there has been a ‘Francis effect’, it has been most pronounced among Catholics who already were highly committed to the practice of their faith,” the survey concluded.

Francis’s 85 percent favourable rating lags behind the 93 percent the late Pope John Paul scored in 1990 and 1996. Pope Emeritus Benedict’s rating reached 83 percent in 2008, just after his only visit to the United States, but it was mostly in the 70s.

The survey said women were slight more favourable to Francis than men and Catholics aged 40 and older were more likely to have a very favourable view than younger believers who came of age under the more dogmatic popes John Paul and Benedict.

Pope Francis’s openness to reforming some Church doctrines seems to have raised U.S. Catholics’ expectations of fundamental changes in coming decades, judging by responses to the poll.

The biggest jump concerned allowing the now celibate clergy to marry. Some 51 percent thought priests would be able to marry by 2050, compared to 39 percent who thought that a year ago.

Some 56 percent expect artificial birth control to be allowed by 2050, a slight rise from 53 percent last year, and 42 percent expected to see women priests, up from 37 percent.

“Regardless of their expectations about what the Church will do, large majorities of Catholics say the Church should allow Catholics to use birth control (77 percent), allow priests to get married (72 percent) and ordain women as priests (68 percent),” the survey wrote.

“Half of Catholics say the Church should recognise the marriages of gay and lesbian couples,” it added.

These responses were roughly in line with results reported in Germany and several other European countries last month to a Vatican survey on sexual morality being taken for a major synod of world bishops on family policy due in October.

Most national bishops conferences have not published their results for the Vatican survey, but the few reports released in Europe indicated a wide gap between Church teaching on sex and the views that many Catholics actually hold.

Some disappointment rang through in comments on how Francis is doing his job. In his lowest rating, only 54 percent said he was addressing the clerical sexual abuse scandal well.

U.S. Catholics rated the abuse scandal the most important issue for the new pope in a Pew survey in March 2013.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.
By contrast, 81 percent thought he was spreading the faith well and standing up for traditional moral values. Some 76 percent credited him with addressing the needs of the poor.

The survey said 22 percent of Americans identify as Catholics and 40 percent of them reported they attended Mass weekly or more often. Another 42 percent of self-identified Catholics went to church only occasionally and 18 percent never.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

False Teacher Kenneth Copeland Wants To Unite With The Catholic Church.


WARNING: The video you are about to see is shocking. It is a blatant, full-frontal assault by the Vatican to, once again, attempt to swallow up the professing Christian church like they did back in 325 AD when the Catholic Church was invented. What you will hear Kenneth Copeland and Anglican priest Tony Palmer – a personal friend and confidant of Pope Francis – say is that “if you are born again, then you are a Catholic” among a host of other outright lies.

Revelation 17 and 18 tells you that, in the end times, the Catholic Church who the bible calls the “whore of Babylon”, is alive and well and ruling the spiritual world in the Tribulation after the Rapture. If you are ablood-bought child of Jesus Christ you are not a Catholic, and never will be.

kenneth-copeland-tony-palmer-pope-francis-one-world-religion-catholic-church

Kenneth Copeland is a false teacher of the prosperity gospel, and is to be avoided at all costs. Christians are not Catholics, and never will be. The Catholic Church is an invention of the Devil, and is the one that has spilled the blood of the martyrs. Share this video with every one you know.

by NTEB News Desk

Imagine the Uproar if Jews Were to Attack Palestinian Arabs.


Palestinians. Sometimes, there aren't enough rocks.
A Palestinian throws a stone during clashes with Israeli police after Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, Feb. 7, 2014. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Imagine that this week, Jews got angry and hundreds attacked Palestinian Arabs with rocks at the holiest Muslim site in the world. Imagine that this violence came after a handful of Muslims came to pray peacefully at the site and that even though hundreds of Jews attacked police officers, only seven were arrested.

Can anyone imagine the endless news stories and media reports that would emanate as a result? The New York Timeswould have three front-page stories; there would be countless United Nations and European Union condemnations, and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour would be on site. Media coverage would be nonstop.

In reality, Arabs attacked Jews repeatedly over the last few days at the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews, so it is barely a news story. Palestinian Arab violence against Jews is a regular occurrence, and as the media seemingly expects the Arabs to throw rocks, they don’t afford it much media coverage.

A few weeks ago, Stockwell Day, who served as Canada’s minister of public safety between 2006 and 2008, visited the area and was refused admittance by Muslims. On the Temple Mount, Jewish religious artifacts and symbols are not permitted and visitors report being strip-searched before being allowed admittance.

Imagine if, in the Vatican, people weren’t permitted to bring religious artifacts. World media would jump all over themselves to cover the story. But since it is Jews being attacked, the world’s media is silent.

The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site and the location of the two holy temples of Jerusalem, the latter of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. Despite the fact that this area is the holiest place on earth for the Jews, Jewish visitation is restricted.

Pretend there was an area in Washington, D.C., that had important political or religious significance to America. Could anyone envision a scenario where Americans were kept out and police officers were attacked regularly at the site?

Of course, if the Israeli police were to adopt the position of the American border patrol police that says they “consider rock-throwing to be deadly force which sometimes demands the same in response,” then the world headlines would criticize Israel for shooting at unarmed young protestors. Ignoring the fact that rocks kill people, the media would describe it as “tit for tat violence” if Israel responded. Talk about a no-win situation.

Israel, it seems, is simply always wrong and can do no right for the world’s media. This bias leads to Jews being killed and is simply despicable.

RONN TOROSSIAN

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts. Torossian is the founder, president and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms.

Pope Names 19 New Cardinals, Focusing on the Poor.


Pope Francis on Sunday named his first batch of cardinals, choosing 19 men from Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, including Haiti and Burkino Faso, to reflect his attention to the poor.

Francis made the announcement as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they are eligible to elect the next pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task. The ceremony to formally install them as cardinals will be held Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

Some appointments were expected, including that of his new secretary of state, the Italian archbishop Pietro Parolin, and the German head of the Vatican’s watchdog office for doctrinal orthodoxy, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller.

But some names were surprising.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope’s selection of churchmen from Haiti and Burkino Faso, which are among the world’s poorest nations, reflects Francis’ attention to the destitute as a core part of the church’s mission.

Also chosen to become a “prince of the church,” as the cardinals are known, was Mario Aurelio Poli, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, a post Francis left when he was elected as the first Latin American pope in March.

His selections also came from Managua, Nicaragua; Santiago, Chile; and Rio de Janeiro. The appointees included churchmen from Seoul, South Korea, and the archbishop of Westminster, in Britain, Vincent Nichols.

In a sentimental touch, the three men too old to vote for the next pope include 98-year-old Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, who had served as personal secretary to Pope John XXIII. The late pontiff will be made a saint along with John Paul II at the Vatican in April.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Vatican Stresses That Pope Has Not Abolished Sin.


The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had “abolished sin“, after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled “Francis’ Revolution: He has abolished sin”.

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God’s mercy and forgiveness were “eternal”.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin” was wrong.

“Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners,” Lombardi said.

It was not the first brush between the Vatican and Scalfari, who founded La Repubblica newspaper in 1976.

Last month the Vatican removed from its website the text of Scalfari’s transcript of his conversation with the pope, saying parts of it were not reliable.

Scalfari said he had not used a tape recorder or taken notes when he met the pope but reconstructed the long session from memory afterwards and made additions to help the flow of the article.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Former Ambassadors: Vatican Embassy Closure ‘Shameful’.


Two former ambassadors to the Holy See believe it will be a “colossal mistake” for the Obama administration to follow through with its plan to close the United States Vatican embassy in 2015.

The United States and the Holy See have built a strong relationship through the embassy, which was opened under President Ronald Reagan in 1984, write Ray Flynn, who served under President Bill Clinton, and Jim Nicholson, ambassador, under President George W. Bush in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

Reagan opened the embassy with bipartisan support, joining more than 150 other countries in maintaining the diplomatic mission inside the Vatican, a decision that proved crucial, say Flynn and Nicholson.

“President Reagan and Pope John Paul II worked along parallel tracks to accelerate the revolutions of 1989 and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union,” the former ambassadors write. “The U.S. and the Holy See have since built a strong relationship that has had a demonstrable impact on the defense and advance of human rights throughout the world.”

President Barack Obama has called to close the embassy and move its functions into a separate building within the grounds of U.S. Embassy to Italy in Rome, three miles from the Vatican, in late 2014 or early 2015. The move is being made as part of new measures to increase security for U.S. diplomatic facilities worldwide following the terrorist attack on the diplomatic compound in Libya last year.

“This would be a colossal mistake,” say Nicholson and Flynn, noting that the move has been seen as a “deliberate slap at the Catholic Church and the pope; some may even detect veiled anti-Catholicism.”

The ambassadors said that no matter what the administration’s motivation may be, moving the embassy away from the Vatican is not in the best interest of the United States.

Further, said Flynn and Nicholson, the State Department has been planning for the past 10 years to close the Vatican posting for budgetary reasons, ever since the State Department bought an office building next to the embassy in Rome.

But now, the Obama administration has added the post-Benghazi security concerns to the “penny-wise/pound-foolish approach” for closing the Mission to the Holy See, the ambassadors write.

“As former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See, we respectfully suggest that any such security concerns be met by stronger executive leadership in the White House and State Department,” say Flynn and Nicholson. “The attempt to use such concerns as an excuse for downgrading the Embassy to the Holy See is shameful.”

They note that the Holy See is the embodiment in international law of the Pope’s mission, and was founded before modern Italy was born.

“The Holy See plays a unique and often crucial role in world affairs, from John Paul II’s pivotal role in the collapse of European communism, to the important achievements of the Holy See in standing up for human dignity and human rights,” the ambassadors write. It also plays a part in the “Vatican’s ‘honest broker’ role in international conflicts and in disasters requiring significant and rapid humanitarian aid.”

The ambassadors point out that the Holy See plays a role as a diplomatic hub where 175 countries are represented, and moving the embassy will “signal a lack of U.S. governmental respect for such papal influence, and it will not go unnoticed by other countries.”

Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

Related stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians.


Image: Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians

VATICAN CITYPope Francis on Thursday denounced discrimination against Christians, including in countries where religious freedom is in theory guaranteed by law.

He delivered his traditional noon prayer and address to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on the day the Roman Catholic Church commemorates St. Stephen, its first martyr.

The 77-year-old Argentine pope asked the crowd for a moment of silent prayer for “Christians who are unjustly accused and are subjected to every type of violence.”

Francis, celebrating his first Christmas season as pope, said “limitations and discrimination” against Christians was taking place not only in countries that do not grant full religious freedom but also where “on paper, freedom and human rights are protected.”

“This injustice should be denounced and eliminated,” he said.

Francis: A Pope for Our Time, The Definitive Biography 

Francis did not name any countries but the Vatican has long urged Saudi Arabia, the site of Islam’s holiest places, to lift a ban on Christians worshiping in public.This year there have been a number of incidents of intolerance and attacks against minority Christians in Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, and other countries where their rights are guaranteed by law.

Francis, departing from his prepared text, said he was sure that Christians suffering from either discrimination or violence were “more numerous today than in he early times of the Church.”

In the past, the Vatican has also expressed concern over what former Pope Benedict called “sophisticated forms of hostility” against Christians in rich countries, such as restricting use of religious symbols in public places.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Pope and Pope Emeritus Benedict Pray Together in Christmas Meeting.


VATICAN CITYPope Francis made a Christmas visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict on Monday and said he found his 86-year-old predecessor looking well, according to television footage released by the Vatican.

Francis, who was elected in March, spent about 30 minutes with Benedict in an ex-convent on the Vatican grounds where the former Pope has been living in near isolation.

“It’s a pleasure to see you looking so well,” Francis told Benedict, who in February became the first Pope in 600 years to step down instead of ruling for life.

Television footage released by the Vatican — only the fourth time Benedict has been filmed since his resignation — showed him looking alert and in better health than on previous occasions.

He greeted Francis, 77, at the door of the residence, standing with an ivory-handled wooden cane. They walked to a chapel where they stood and prayed before speaking privately in another room.

When Francis left Benedict, he said, “Merry Christmas, pray for me.” Benedict responded, “Always, always, always.”

Benedict resigned on Feb. 28, saying he no longer had the physical and spiritual strength to lead the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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