Saturday, April 19, 2008
ALSO DURING THE PASSOVER IN THE FUTURE THE VATICAN GETS NUKED BY THE EU DICTATOR FOR GETTING TO STRONG.
Israel, Vatican closer to diplomatic pact
Jerusalem, Apr. 18, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Israeli and Vatican negotiators moved closer to a long-awaited juridical agreement in cordial talks at the Israeli foreign ministry this week, the AsiaNews service reports. The next bargaining session is set for May 28 in Rome, with ranking officials from the Israeli foreign ministry and the Vatican Secretariat of State scheduled to take part. The two sides have agreed to accelerate the pace of discussions, hoping to complete the legal-economic accord that was promised as part of the fundamental agreement that opened the way for diplomatic relations in 1993. Among the issues under discussion are the tax status of Church institutions in Israel, the immigration rules affecting Catholic clergy and religious, and the control of some properties-- notably including the Cenacle, the site of the Last Supper-- to which the Church claims legitimate title.
04/17/2008 12:36 ISRAEL - HOLY SEE
Cordiality and signs of mutual trust between the Jewish state and the Vatican by Arieh Cohen
This is what is emerging from the meeting of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission, which renews its commitment to accelerate the conclusion of an agreement. Among the objectives, the restitution of the Cenacle. The plenary meeting in Rome on May 28. Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) - With the joint communique released at the end of its work, yesterday, April 16, at the office of the Israeli foreign ministry, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission of the Holy See and the state of Israel announced that it will hold its next plenary session on May 28, at the Vatican.
Plenary is the name given to the session presided over by the highest levels (just beneath the ministerial level) of the respective foreign dicasteries and also including other officials, in addition to those who take part in the working sessions that are held in the meantime, between one plenary session and the other. The plenary sessions have been resumed only since May 21, 2007, after a five year interval (since March 12, 2002 ), and it seems that the two parties intend to hold them every six months, as they have done since the first session of this new series. As on other occasions, the communique for the current working meeting says that it was characterised by an atmosphere of great cordiality (which a participant who spoke with AsiaNews fully confirmed) and that, in such an atmosphere, the delegations renewed their shared determination to speed up their work in order to conclude the Agreement as soon as possible. The desired Agreement, previously requested by the Fundamental Agreement of December 30, 1993, should above all reconfirm the historical tax exemptions for the Church, and effect the restitution to the Church of some ecclesiastical properties lost over the years, in particular, among others, the church-shrine of Caesarea Maritima (in addition to, naturally, the holy Cenacle).
The announcement of the date of the upcoming plenary session, says one expert on Church-state relations in Israel, interviewed by AsiaNews, would be a good sign of the seriousness of the negotiations, and could be seen as an indication that the delegations have developed relationships of mutual trust, and methods of straightforward collaboration aimed at reaching a common goal.
DAY 1 OF PASSOVER IS IN ISRAEL TODAY AT 6PM. HOW GOD USED MOSES TO FREE ISRAEL FROM EGYPT.
Saturday April 19, 09:35 AM
Pope gets warm welcome in NY synagogue
A New York synagogue gave Pope Benedict a warm welcome, with the chief rabbi hailing his work for inter-faith dialogue and congregants playing down recent tensions between Catholics and Jews.
A heartfelt shalom. Willkommen, said Arthur Schneier, chief rabbi of the Park East Synagogue, using the Hebrew word for peace and German word for welcome.The visit on the eve of Passover, the holy day marking the exodus from Egypt, was only the third by a pope to a Jewish house of worship. Benedict visited one in Cologne, Germany in 2005, and his predecessor Pope John Paul visited the Rome synagogue in 1986.It is with joy that I come here, just a few hours before the celebration of your Pesah, to express my respect and esteem for the Jewish community in New York City, the German-born pontiff said, using the Hebrew word for Passover.I encourage all of you to continue building bridges of friendship with all the many different ethnic and religious groups present in your neighbourhood.
Catholic-Jewish relations were strained in February when the Vatican published a new prayer, partly drafted by Benedict, for Good Friday services in the old Latin rite that called for the conversion of the Jews.Several Jewish leaders criticised the prayer and the Vatican issued a statement that the text in no way intends to indicate a change in the Catholic Church's regard for the Jews.
Schneier, a Holocaust survivor who came to the United States from Budapest in 1947, made no mention of the controversy and instead stressed their common past in wartime Europe.In our lifetime, we have both experienced the ravages of war, the Holocaust, man's inhumanity to man, and tasted the joy of freedom, he said in the synagogue, a New York City landmark built in 1890. I thank God that both of us have survived.He added: Our presence together is a message that inter-religious dialogue is viable and vital to the resolution of conflict. Your message of conciliation has already been heard around the globe.Catholic-Jewish relations had come a long way since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Schneier said, adding: Your presence here gives us hope and courage for the road we still have to travel together.Members of the modern Orthodox congregation also played down the recent exchange over the Good Friday prayer.He wants this trip to make a point and that point is that the religions should be talking and communicating and not isolating one from the other, said Harvey Feuerstein, 70, a Manhattan lawyer on the synagogue's board or trustees.Barry Zimmerman, 70, a retired Manhattan chemist, shrugged off the recent disagreements with the remark: Popes have made worse comments in the past.Ken Lipper, a Manhattan real estate executive, said after the short ceremony: He said that he was here to pay his respects to all of the Jews ... I was very impressed.In the synagogue, two youths gave Benedict unleavened matzo bread and a copy of the Passover Haggadah text. The pope told them he would eat the matzo on Saturday, according to the Jewish ritual.
Agence France-Presse Washington, April 18, 2008
Muslim leaders urge Pope to lead Catholic-Muslim dialogue
US Muslim leaders have said they urged Pope Benedict XVI at a meeting to help establish a permanent dialogue between the two faiths. I told the pope: I met you two yeas ago at the Vatican and asked you then to lead efforts to establish permanent dialogue with Muslims,Imam Hassan Al-Qzwini, the religious director of the Islamic Center of America said at an impromptu news conference after the pope met with representatives of five faiths. I repeated that call today. Muslims and Catholics form over 50 per cent of the world's population and we are in desperate need of dialogue, he said.
Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of the Islamic Law Council of North America, said he had also called for more dialogue with the Church, and urged the Pope to use is influence to bring stability
to Lebanon.He said he would do his best, Siddiqi said. Benedict met with leaders of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish and Muslim faiths at an inter-religious meeting at the John Paul II Inter-cultural Center in Washington. Today in classrooms throughout the country, young Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and indeed children of all religions sit side by side, learning with and from one another, he told them. May others take heart from your experience, realising that a united society can indeed arise
from a plurality of peoples, provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right.Benedict began a six-day visit to the United States on Tuesday. On Wednesday he became the
first pope in 30 years to visit the White House, where he and President George W Bush discussed the plight of Christians in war-torn Iraq, among other issues. http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print.aspx?Id=0716ad1b-f72f-4... Posted from http://www.teranews.com
19/04/2008 1.26.14 Pope Benedict XVI's Address at Ecumenical Prayer Meeting
Pope Benedict XVI's Address at Ecumenical Prayer Meeting
18 April 2008 St. Joseph's Church, New York City
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,My heart abounds with gratitude to Almighty God – the Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph 4:6) – for this blessed opportunity to gather with you this evening in prayer. I thank Bishop Dennis Sullivan for his cordial welcome, and I warmly greet all those in attendance representing Christian communities throughout the United States. May the peace of our Lord and Savior be with you all!Through you, I express my sincere appreciation for the invaluable work of all those engaged in ecumenism: the National Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together, the Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and many others. The contribution of Christians in the United States to the ecumenical movement is felt throughout the world. I encourage all of you to persevere, always relying on the grace of the risen Christ whom we strive to serve by bringing about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name (Rom 1:5).
We have just listened to the scriptural passage in which Paul – a prisoner for the Lord – delivers his ardent appeal to the members of the Christian community at Ephesus. I beg you, he writes, to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-3). Then, after his impassioned litany of unity, Paul reminds his hearers that Jesus, having ascended into heaven, has bestowed upon men and women all the gifts necessary for building up the Body of Christ (cf. Eph 4:11-13).Paul’s exhortation resounds with no less vigor today. His words instill in us the confidence that the Lord will never abandon us in our quest for unity. They also call us to live in a way that bears witness to the one heart and mind (Acts 4:32), which has always been the distinguishing trait of Christian koinonia (cf. Acts 2:42), and the force drawing others to join the community of believers so that they too might come to share in the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8; cf. Acts 2:47; 5:14).
Globalization has humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand, there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and interdependency between peoples even when – geographically and culturally speaking – they are far apart. This new situation offers the potential for enhancing a sense of global solidarity and shared responsibility for the well-being of mankind. On the other hand, we cannot deny that the rapid changes occurring in our world also present some disturbing signs of fragmentation and a retreat into individualism. The expanding use of electronic communications has in some cases paradoxically resulted in greater isolation. Many people – including the young – are seeking therefore more authentic forms of community. Also of grave concern is the spread of a secularist ideology that undermines or even rejects transcendent truth. The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore of Christian faith, is often placed into question by cultural trends widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate. For these reasons, a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the hope that they hold (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).
Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called prophetic actions that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of local options. Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia – communion with the Church in every age – is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).
Faced with these difficulties, we must first recall that the unity of the Church flows from the perfect oneness of the Trinitarian God. In John’s Gospel, we are told that Jesus prayed to his Father that his disciples might be one, just as you are in me and I am in you (Jn 17:21). This passage reflects the unwavering conviction of the early Christian community that its unity was both caused by, and is reflective of, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This, in turn, suggests that the internal cohesion of believers was based on the sound integrity of their doctrinal confession (cf. 1 Tim 1:3-11). Throughout the New Testament, we find that the Apostles were repeatedly called to give an account for their faith to both Gentiles (cf. Acts 17:16-34) and Jews (cf. Acts 4:5-22; 5:27-42). The core of their argument was always the historical fact of Jesus’s bodily resurrection from the tomb (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30). The ultimate effectiveness of their preaching did not depend on lofty words or human wisdom (1 Cor 2:13), but rather on the work of the Spirit (Eph 3:5) who confirmed the authoritative witness of the Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-11). The nucleus of Paul’s preaching and that of the early Church was none other than Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). But this proclamation had to be guaranteed by the purity of normative doctrine expressed in creedal formulae – symbola – which articulated the essence of the Christian faith and constituted the foundation for the unity of the baptized (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5; Gal 1:6-9; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2).
My dear friends, the power of the kerygma has lost none of its internal dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that science alone is objective, relegate religion entirely to the subjective sphere of individual feeling. Scientific discoveries, and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not mean, however, that the knowable is limited to the empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of personal experience. For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to the notion that there is little need to emphasize objective truth in the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living.
Even within the ecumenical movement, Christians may be reluctant to assert the role of doctrine for fear that it would only exacerbate rather than heal the wounds of division. Yet a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today.Only by holding fast to sound teaching (2 Thess 2:15; cf. Rev 2:12-29) will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching. This is the message which the world is waiting to hear from us. Like the early Christians, we have a responsibility to give transparent witness to the reasons for our hope, so that the eyes of all men and women of goodwill may be opened to see that God has shown us his face (cf. 2 Cor 3:12-18) and granted us access to his divine life through Jesus Christ. He alone is our hope! God has revealed his love for all peoples through the mystery of his Son’s passion and death, and has called us to proclaim that he is indeed risen, has taken his place at the right hand of the Father, and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead (Nicene Creed).
May the word of God we have heard this evening inflame our hearts with hope on the path to unity (cf. Lk 24:32). May this prayer service exemplify the centrality of prayer in the ecumenical movement (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 8); for without it, ecumenical structures, institutions and programs would be deprived of their heart and soul. Let us give thanks to Almighty God for the progress that has been made through the work of his Spirit, as we acknowledge with gratitude the personal sacrifices made by so many present and by those who have gone before us. By following in their footsteps, and by placing our trust in God alone, I am confident that – to borrow the words of Father Paul Wattson – we will achieve the oneness of hope, oneness of faith, and oneness of love that alone will convince the world that Jesus Christ is the one sent by the Father for the salvation of all.I thank you all.
Text of pope's U.N. speech… motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ Posted: April 18, 2008 12:38 pm Eastern 2008 WorldNetDaily
Pope Benedict XVI address U.N. General Assembly
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I begin my address to this Assembly, I would like first of all to express to you, Mr President, my sincere gratitude for your kind words. My thanks go also to the Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for inviting me to visit the headquarters of this Organization and for the welcome that he has extended to me. I greet the Ambassadors and Diplomats from the Member States, and all those present. Through you, I greet the peoples who are represented here. They look to this institution to carry forward the founding inspiration to establish a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends of peace and development (cf. Charter of the United Nations, article 1.2-1.4). As Pope John Paul II expressed it in 1995, the Organization should be a moral center where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a family of nations(Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 50th Anniversary of its Foundation, New York, Oct. 5, 1995, 14).
Through the United Nations, states have established universal objectives which, even if they do not coincide with the total common good of the human family, undoubtedly represent a fundamental part of that good. The founding principles of the organization – the desire for peace, the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the person, humanitarian cooperation and assistance – express the just aspirations of the human spirit, and constitute the ideals which should underpin international relations. As my predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II have observed from this very podium, all this is something that the Catholic Church and the Holy See follow attentively and with interest, seeing in your activity an example of how issues and conflicts concerning the world community can be subject to common regulation. The United Nations embodies the aspiration for a greater degree of international ordering (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 43), inspired and governed by the principle of subsidiarity, and therefore capable of responding to the demands of the human family through binding international rules and through structures capable of harmonizing the day-to-day unfolding of the lives of peoples. This is all the more necessary at a time when we experience the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world's problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the international community.
Indeed, questions of security, development goals, reduction of local and global inequalities, protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate, require all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. I am thinking especially of those countries in Africa and other parts of the world which remain on the margins of authentic integral development, and are therefore at risk of experiencing only the negative effects of globalization. In the context of international relations, it is necessary to recognize the higher role played by rules and structures that are intrinsically ordered to promote the common good, and therefore to safeguard human freedom. These regulations do not limit freedom. On the contrary, they promote it when they prohibit behavior and actions which work against the common good, curb its effective exercise and hence compromise the dignity of every human person. In the name of freedom, there has to be a correlation between rights and duties, by which every person is called to assume responsibility for his or her choices, made as a consequence of entering into relations with others. Here our thoughts turn also to the way the results of scientific research and technological advances have sometimes been applied. Notwithstanding the enormous benefits that humanity can gain, some instances of this represent a clear violation of the order of creation, to the point where not only is the sacred character of life contradicted, but the human person and the family are robbed of their natural identity. Likewise, international action to preserve the environment and to protect various forms of life on earth must not only guarantee a rational use of technology and science, but must also rediscover the authentic image of creation. This never requires a choice to be made between science and ethics: rather it is a question of adopting a scientific method that is truly respectful of ethical imperatives.
Recognition of the unity of the human family, and attention to the innate dignity of every man and woman, today find renewed emphasis in the principle of the responsibility to protect. This has only recently been defined, but it was already present implicitly at the origins of the United Nations, and is now increasingly characteristic of its activity. Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If states are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments. The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty. On the contrary, it is indifference or failure to intervene that do the real damage. What is needed is a deeper search for ways of pre-empting and managing conflicts by exploring every possible diplomatic avenue, and giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation.
The principle of responsibility to protect was considered by the ancient ius gentium as the foundation of every action taken by those in government with regard to the governed: at the time when the concept of national sovereign States was first developing, the Dominican Friar Francisco de Vitoria, rightly considered as a precursor of the idea of the United Nations, described this responsibility as an aspect of natural reason shared by all nations, and the result of an international order whose task it was to regulate relations between peoples. Now, as then, this principle has to invoke the idea of the person as image of the Creator, the desire for the absolute and the essence of freedom. The founding of the United Nations, as we know, coincided with the profound upheavals that humanity experienced when reference to the meaning of transcendence and natural reason was abandoned, and in consequence, freedom and human dignity were grossly violated. When this happens, it threatens the objective foundations of the values inspiring and governing the international order and it undermines the cogent and inviolable principles formulated and consolidated by the United Nations. When faced with new and insistent challenges, it is a mistake to fall back on a pragmatic approach, limited to determining common ground, minimal in content and weak in its effect.
This reference to human dignity, which is the foundation and goal of the responsibility to protect, leads us to the theme we are specifically focusing upon this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was the outcome of a convergence of different religious and cultural traditions, all of them motivated by the common desire to place the human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of society, and to consider the human person essential for the world of culture, religion and science. Human rights are increasingly being presented as the common language and the ethical substratum of international relations. At the same time, the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights all serve as guarantees safeguarding human dignity. It is evident, though, that the rights recognized and expounded in the Declaration apply to everyone by virtue of the common origin of the person, who remains the high-point of God's creative design for the world and for history. They are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights.
(continued in English)
The life of the community, both domestically and internationally, clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development and poverty, security and conflict. The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security. Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peace. The common good that human rights help to accomplish cannot, however, be attained merely by applying correct procedures, nor even less by achieving a balance between competing rights. The merit of the Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights. Today, though, efforts need to be redoubled in the face of pressure to reinterpret the foundations of the Declaration and to compromise its inner unity so as to facilitate a move away from the protection of human dignity towards the satisfaction of simple interests, often particular interests. The Declaration was adopted as a common standard of achievement (Preamble) and cannot be applied piecemeal, according to trends or selective choices that merely run the risk of contradicting the unity of the human person and thus the indivisibility of human rights.
Experience shows that legality often prevails over justice when the insistence upon rights makes them appear as the exclusive result of legislative enactments or normative decisions taken by the various agencies of those in power. When presented purely in terms of legality, rights risk becoming weak propositions divorced from the ethical and rational dimension which is their foundation and their goal. The Universal Declaration, rather, has reinforced the conviction that respect for human rights is principally rooted in unchanging justice, on which the binding force of international proclamations is also based. This aspect is often overlooked when the attempt is made to deprive rights of their true function in the name of a narrowly utilitarian perspective. Since rights and the resulting duties follow naturally from human interaction, it is easy to forget that they are the fruit of a commonly held sense of justice built primarily upon solidarity among the members of society, and hence valid at all times and for all peoples. This intuition was expressed as early as the fifth century by Augustine of Hippo, one of the masters of our intellectual heritage. He taught that the saying: Do not do to others what you would not want done to you cannot in any way vary according to the different understandings that have arisen in the world (De Doctrina Christiana, III, 14). Human rights, then, must be respected as an expression of justice, and not merely because they are enforceable through the will of the legislators.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As history proceeds, new situations arise, and the attempt is made to link them to new rights. Discernment, that is, the capacity to distinguish good from evil, becomes even more essential in the context of demands that concern the very lives and conduct of persons, communities and peoples. In tackling the theme of rights, since important situations and profound realities are involved, discernment is both an indispensable and a fruitful virtue.
Discernment, then, shows that entrusting exclusively to individual states, with their laws and institutions, the final responsibility to meet the aspirations of persons, communities and entire peoples, can sometimes have consequences that exclude the possibility of a social order respectful of the dignity and rights of the person. On the other hand, a vision of life firmly anchored in the religious dimension can help to achieve this, since recognition of the transcendent value of every man and woman favors conversion of heart, which then leads to a commitment to resist violence, terrorism and war, and to promote justice and peace. This also provides the proper context for the inter-religious dialogue that the United Nations is called to support, just as it supports dialogue in other areas of human activity. Dialogue should be recognized as the means by which the various components of society can articulate their point of view and build consensus around the truth concerning particular values or goals. It pertains to the nature of religions, freely practiced, that they can autonomously conduct a dialogue of thought and life. If at this level, too, the religious sphere is kept separate from political action, then great benefits ensue for individuals and communities. On the other hand, the United Nations can count on the results of dialogue between religions, and can draw fruit from the willingness of believers to place their experiences at the service of the common good. Their task is to propose a vision of faith not in terms of intolerance, discrimination and conflict, but in terms of complete respect for truth, coexistence, rights, and reconciliation.
Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian - a vision that brings out the unity of the person while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and that of the believer. The activity of the United Nations in recent years has ensured that public debate gives space to viewpoints inspired by a religious vision in all its dimensions, including ritual, worship, education, dissemination of information and the freedom to profess and choose religion. It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves - their faith - in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one's rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature. The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order. Indeed, they actually do so, for example through their influential and generous involvement in a vast network of initiatives which extend from Universities, scientific institutions and schools to health care agencies and charitable organizations in the service of the poorest and most marginalized. Refusal to recognize the contribution to society that is rooted in the religious dimension and in the quest for the Absolute - by its nature, expressing communion between persons – would effectively privilege an individualistic approach, and would fragment the unity of the person.
My presence at this Assembly is a sign of esteem for the United Nations, and it is intended to express the hope that the organization will increasingly serve as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service to the entire human family. It also demonstrates the willingness of the Catholic Church to offer her proper contribution to building international relations in a way that allows every person and every people to feel they can make a difference. In a manner that is consistent with her contribution in the ethical and moral sphere and the free activity of her faithful, the Church also works for the realization of these goals through the international activity of the Holy See. Indeed, the Holy See has always had a place at the assemblies of the Nations, thereby manifesting its specific character as a subject in the international domain. As the United Nations recently confirmed, the Holy See thereby makes its contribution according to the dispositions of international law, helps to define that law, and makes appeal to it.
The United Nations remains a privileged setting in which the Church is committed to contributing her experience of humanity, developed over the centuries among peoples of every race and culture, and placing it at the disposal of all members of the international community. This experience and activity, directed towards attaining freedom for every believer, seeks also to increase the protection given to the rights of the person. Those rights are grounded and shaped by the transcendent nature of the person, which permits men and women to pursue their journey of faith and their search for God in this world. Recognition of this dimension must be strengthened if we are to sustain humanity's hope for a better world and if we are to create the conditions for peace, development, cooperation, and guarantee of rights for future generations.
In my recent Encyclical, Spe Salvi, I indicated that every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs (no. 25). For Christians, this task is motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is why the Church is happy to be associated with the activity of this distinguished Organization, charged with the responsibility of promoting peace and good will throughout the earth. Dear Friends, I thank you for this opportunity to address you today, and I promise you of the support of my prayers as you pursue your noble task.
Before I take my leave from this distinguished Assembly, I should like to offer my greetings, in the official languages, to all the Nations here represented.
[in English; in French; in Spanish; in Arab; in Chinese; in Russian:]Peace and Prosperity with God's help!
Text of Pope's speech to bishops
Published: April 17, 2008
Following is the prepared text of Pope Benedict XVI's speech before the bishops of the United States at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, as provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Dear Brother Bishops,
It gives me great joy to greet you today, at the start of my visit to this country, and I thank Cardinal George for the gracious words he has addressed to me on your behalf. I want to thank all of you, especially the Officers of the Episcopal Conference, for the hard work that has gone into the preparation of this visit. My grateful appreciation goes also to the staff and volunteers of the National Shrine, who have welcomed us here this evening. American Catholics are noted for their loyal devotion to the see of Peter. My pastoral visit here is an opportunity to strengthen further the bonds of communion that unite us. We began by celebrating Evening Prayer in this Basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine of special significance to American Catholics, right in the heart of your capital city. Gathered in prayer with Mary, Mother of Jesus, we lovingly commend to our heavenly Father the people of God in every part of the United States.
For the Catholic communities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, this is a year of particular celebration, as it marks the bicentenary of the establishment of these local Churches as Dioceses. I join you in giving thanks for the many graces granted to the Church there during these two centuries. As this year also marks the bicentenary of the elevation of the founding see of Baltimore to an Archdiocese, it gives me an opportunity to recall with admiration and gratitude the life and ministry of John Carroll, the first Bishop of Baltimore — a worthy leader of the Catholic community in your newly independent nation. His tireless efforts to spread the Gospel in the vast territory under his care laid the foundations for the ecclesial life of your country and enabled the Church in America to grow to maturity. Today the Catholic community you serve is one of the largest in the world, and one of the most influential. How important it is, then, to let your light so shine before your fellow citizens and before the world, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Mt 5:16).
Many of the people to whom John Carroll and his fellow Bishops were ministering two centuries ago had traveled from distant lands. The diversity of their origins is reflected in the rich variety of ecclesial life in present-day America. Brother Bishops, I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations. From the beginning, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free (cf. Sonnet inscribed on the Statue of Liberty). These are the people whom America has made her own.
Today in Americas
Across globe, hunger brings rising angerEarthquake rattles central U.S.Pope meets with U.S. victims of priests' sexual abuseOf those who came to build a new life here, many were able to make good use of the resources and opportunities that they found, and to attain a high level of prosperity. Indeed, the people of this country are known for their great vitality and creativity. They are also known for their generosity. After the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001, and again after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Americans displayed their readiness to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in need. On the international level, the contribution made by the people of America to relief and rescue operations after the tsunami of December 2004 is a further illustration of this compassion. Let me express my particular appreciation for the many forms of humanitarian assistance provided by American Catholics through Catholic Charities and other agencies. Their generosity has borne fruit in the care shown to the poor and needy, and in the energy that has gone into building the nationwide network of Catholic parishes, hospitals, schools and universities. All of this gives great cause for thanksgiving.
America is also a land of great faith. Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshipping community. They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse. Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness — a fact which has contributed to this country's attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs.
In this connection, I happily acknowledge the presence among you of Bishops from all the venerable Eastern Churches in communion with the Successor of Peter, whom I greet with special joy. Dear Brothers, I ask you to assure your communities of my deep affection and my continued prayers, both for them and for the many brothers and sisters who remain in their land of origin. Your presence here is a reminder of the courageous witness to Christ of so many members of your communities, often amid suffering, in their respective homelands. It is also a great enrichment of the ecclesial life of America, giving vivid expression to the Church's catholicity and the variety of her liturgical and spiritual traditions.
It is in this fertile soil, nourished from so many different sources, that all of you, Brother Bishops, are called to sow the seeds of the Gospel today. This leads me to ask how, in the twenty-first century, a bishop can best fulfill the call to make all things new in Christ, our hope? How can he lead his people to an encounter with the living God, the source of that life-transforming hope of which the Gospel speaks (cf. Spe Salvi, 4)? Perhaps he needs to begin by clearing away some of the barriers to such an encounter. While it is true that this country is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith to influence their behavior. Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death? Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.
For an affluent society, a further obstacle to an encounter with the living God lies in the subtle influence of materialism, which can all too easily focus the attention on the hundredfold, which God promises now in this time, at the expense of the eternal life which he promises in the age to come (cf. Mk 10:30). People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with Christ Jesus, our hope (1 Tim 1:1).
In a society which values personal freedom and autonomy, it is easy to lose sight of our dependence on others as well as the responsibilities that we bear towards them. This emphasis on individualism has even affected the Church (cf. Spe Salvi, 13-15), giving rise to a form of piety which sometimes emphasizes our private relationship with God at the expense of our calling to be members of a redeemed community. Yet from the beginning, God saw that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18). We were created as social beings who find fulfillment only in love - for God and for our neighbor. If we are truly to gaze upon him who is the source of our joy, we need to do so as members of the people of God (cf. Spe Salvi, 14). If this seems counter-cultural, that is simply further evidence of the urgent need for a renewed evangelization of culture.
Here in America, you are blessed with a Catholic laity of considerable cultural diversity, who place their wide-ranging gifts at the service of the Church and of society at large. They look to you to offer them encouragement, leadership and direction. In an age that is saturated with information, the importance of providing sound formation in the faith cannot be overstated. American Catholics have traditionally placed a high value on religious education, both in schools and in the context of adult formation programs. These need to be maintained and expanded. The many generous men and women who devote themselves to charitable activity need to be helped to renew their dedication through a formation of the heart: an encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others (Deus Caritas Est, 31). At a time when advances in medical science bring new hope to many, they also give rise to previously unimagined ethical challenges. This makes it more important than ever to offer thorough formation in the Church's moral teaching to Catholics engaged in health care. Wise guidance is needed in all these apostolates, so that they may bear abundant fruit; if they are truly to promote the integral good of the human person, they too need to be made new in Christ our hope.
As preachers of the Gospel and leaders of the Catholic community, you are also called to participate in the exchange of ideas in the public square, helping to shape cultural attitudes. In a context where free speech is valued, and where vigorous and honest debate is encouraged, yours is a respected voice that has much to offer to the discussion of the pressing social and moral questions of the day. By ensuring that the Gospel is clearly heard, you not only form the people of your own community, but in view of the global reach of mass communication, you help to spread the message of Christian hope throughout the world.
Clearly, the Church's influence on public debate takes place on many different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters. Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as a leaven in society. Yet it cannot be assumed that all Catholic citizens think in harmony with the Church's teaching on today's key ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.
In this regard, a matter of deep concern to us all is the state of the family within society. Indeed, Cardinal George mentioned earlier that you have included the strengthening of marriage and family life among the priorities for your attention over the next few years. In this year's World Day of Peace Message I spoke of the essential contribution that healthy family life makes to peace within and between nations. In the family home we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them (no. 3). The family is also the primary place for evangelization, for passing on the faith, for helping young people to appreciate the importance of religious practice and Sunday observance. How can we not be dismayed as we observe the sharp decline of the family as a basic element of Church and society? Divorce and infidelity have increased, and many young men and women are choosing to postpone marriage or to forego it altogether. To some young Catholics, the sacramental bond of marriage seems scarcely distinguishable from a civil bond, or even a purely informal and open-ended arrangement to live with another person. Hence we have an alarming decrease in the number of Catholic marriages in the United States together with an increase in cohabitation, in which the Christ-like mutual self-giving of spouses, sealed by a public promise to live out the demands of an indissoluble lifelong commitment, is simply absent. In such circumstances, children are denied the secure environment that they need in order truly to flourish as human beings, and society is denied the stable building blocks which it requires if the cohesion and moral focus of the community are to be maintained.
As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II taught, The person principally responsible in the Diocese for the pastoral care of the family is the Bishop ... he must devote to it personal interest, care, time, personnel and resources, but above all personal support for the families and for all those who ... assist him in the pastoral care of the family (Familiaris Consortio, 73). It is your task to proclaim boldly the arguments from faith and reason in favor of the institution of marriage, understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, open to the transmission of life. This message should resonate with people today, because it is essentially an unconditional and unreserved yes to life, a yes to love, and a yes to the aspirations at the heart of our common humanity, as we strive to fulfill our deep yearning for intimacy with others and with the Lord.
Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors. Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the prayerful support of God's people throughout the world. Rightly, you attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.
Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was sometimes very badly handled. Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of society.
If they are to achieve their full purpose, however, the policies and programs you have adopted need to be placed in a wider context. Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person. This brings us back to our consideration of the centrality of the family and the need to promote the Gospel of life. What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today? We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task — not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed, every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modelled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores. Moreover, by acknowledging and confronting the problem when it occurs in an ecclesial setting, you can give a lead to others, since this scourge is found not only within your Dioceses, but in every sector of society. It calls for a determined, collective response.
Priests, too, need your guidance and closeness during this difficult time. They have experienced shame over what has occurred, and there are those who feel they have lost some of the trust and esteem they once enjoyed. Not a few are experiencing a closeness to Christ in his Passion as they struggle to come to terms with the consequences of the crisis. The Bishop, as father, brother and friend of his priests, can help them to draw spiritual fruit from this union with Christ by making them aware of the Lord's consoling presence in the midst of their suffering, and by encouraging them to walk with the Lord along the path of hope (cf. Spe Salvi, 39). As Pope John Paul II observed six years ago, we must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community, leading to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate and a holier Church (Address to the Cardinals of the United States, 23 April 2002, 4). There are many signs that, during the intervening period, such purification has indeed been taking place. Christ's abiding presence in the midst of our suffering is gradually transforming our darkness into light: all things are indeed being made new in Christ Jesus our hope.
At this stage a vital part of your task is to strengthen relationships with your clergy, especially in those cases where tension has arisen between priests and their bishops in the wake of the crisis. It is important that you continue to show them your concern, to support them, and to lead by example. In this way you will surely help them to encounter the living God, and point them towards the life-transforming hope of which the Gospel speaks. If you yourselves live in a manner closely configured to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, you will inspire your brother priests to rededicate themselves to the service of their flocks with Christ-like generosity. Indeed a clearer focus upon the imitation of Christ in holiness of life is exactly what is needed in order for us to move forward. We need to rediscover the joy of living a Christ-centred life, cultivating the virtues, and immersing ourselves in prayer. When the faithful know that their pastor is a man who prays and who dedicates his life to serving them, they respond with warmth and affection which nourishes and sustains the life of the whole community.
Time spent in prayer is never wasted, however urgent the duties that press upon us from every side. Adoration of Christ our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament prolongs and intensifies the union with him that is established through the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 66). Contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary releases all their saving power and it conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 11, 15). Fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours ensures that the whole of our day is sanctified and it continually reminds us of the need to remain focused on doing God's work, however many pressures and distractions may arise from the task at hand. Thus our devotion helps us to speak and act in persona Christi, to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful in the name of Jesus, to bring his reconciliation, his healing and his love to all his beloved brothers and sisters. This radical configuration to Christ, the Good Shepherd, lies at the heart of our pastoral ministry, and if we open ourselves through prayer to the power of the Spirit, he will give us the gifts we need to carry out our daunting task, so that we need never be anxious how to speak or what to say (Mt 10:19).
As I conclude my words to you this evening, I commend the Church in your country most particularly to the maternal care and intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. May she who carried within her womb the hope of all the nations intercede for the people of this country, so that all may be made new in Jesus Christ her Son. My dear Brother Bishops, I assure each of you here present of my deep friendship and my participation in your pastoral concerns. To all of you, and to your clergy, religious and lay faithful, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.
1. The Holy Father is asked to give his assessment of the challenge of increasing secularism in public life and relativism in intellectual life, and his advice on how to confront these challenges pastorally and evangelize more effectively.
I touched upon this theme briefly in my address. It strikes me as significant that here in America, unlike many places in Europe, the secular mentality has not been intrinsically opposed to religion. Within the context of the separation of Church and State, American society has always been marked by a fundamental respect for religion and its public role, and, if polls are to be believed, the American people are deeply religious. But it is not enough to count on this traditional religiosity and go about business as usual, even as its foundations are being slowly undermined. A serious commitment to evangelization cannot prescind from a profound diagnosis of the real challenges the Gospel encounters in contemporary American culture.
Of course, what is essential is a correct understanding of the just autonomy of the secular order, an autonomy which cannot be divorced from God the Creator and his saving plan (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36). Perhaps America's brand of secularism poses a particular problem: it allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things out there are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing separation of faith from life: living as if God did not exist. This is aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and religion: far from a Catholic approach to thinking with the Church, each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose, maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ. Consequently, rather than being transformed and renewed in mind, Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of this age (cf. Rom 12:3). We have seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion.
On a deeper level, secularism challenges the Church to reaffirm and to pursue more actively her mission in and to the world. As the Council made clear, the lay faithful have a particular responsibility in this regard. What is needed, I am convinced, is a greater sense of the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and the natural law on the one hand, and, on the other, the pursuit of authentic human good, as embodied in civil law and in personal moral decisions. In a society that rightly values personal liberty, the Church needs to promote at every level of her teaching — in catechesis, preaching, seminary and university instruction — an apologetics aimed at affirming the truth of Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life. In a word, the Gospel has to be preached and taught as an integral way of life, offering an attractive and true answer, intellectually and practically, to real human problems. The dictatorship of relativism, in the end, is nothing less than a threat to genuine human freedom, which only matures in generosity and fidelity to the truth.
Today in Americas
Across globe, hunger brings rising angerEarthquake rattles central U.S.Pope meets with U.S. victims of priests' sexual abuseMuch more, of course, could be said on this subject: let me conclude, though, by saying that I believe that the Church in America, at this point in her history, is faced with the challenge of recapturing the Catholic vision of reality and presenting it, in an engaging and imaginative way, to a society which markets any number of recipes for human fulfillment. I think in particular of our need to speak to the hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness and truth. Much remains to be done, particularly on the level of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the new evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in America.
2. The Holy Father is asked about a certain quiet attrition by which Catholics are abandoning the practice of the faith, sometimes by an explicit decision, but often by distancing themselves quietly and gradually from attendance at Mass and identification with the Church.
Certainly, much of this has to do with the passing away of a religious culture, sometimes disparagingly referred to as a ghetto, which reinforced participation and identification with the Church. As I just mentioned, one of the great challenges facing the Church in this country is that of cultivating a Catholic identity which is based not so much on externals as on a way of thinking and acting grounded in the Gospel and enriched by the Church's living tradition.
The issue clearly involves factors such as religious individualism and scandal. Let us go to the heart of the matter: faith cannot survive unless it is nourished, unless it is formed by charity (cf. Gal 5:6). Do people today find it difficult to encounter God in our Churches? Has our preaching lost its salt? Might it be that many people have forgotten, or never really learned, how to pray in and with the Church?
Here I am not speaking of people who leave the Church in search of subjective religious experiences; this is a pastoral issue which must be addressed on its own terms. I think we are speaking about people who have fallen by the wayside without consciously having rejected their faith in Christ, but, for whatever reason, have not drawn life from the liturgy, the sacraments, preaching. Yet Christian faith, as we know, is essentially ecclesial, and without a living bond to the community, the individual's faith will never grow to maturity. Indeed, to return to the question I just discussed, the result can be a quiet apostasy.
So let me make two brief observations on the problem of attrition, which I hope will stimulate further reflection.
Today in Americas
Across globe, hunger brings rising angerEarthquake rattles central U.S.Pope meets with U.S. victims of priests' sexual abuseFirst, as you know, it is becoming more and more difficult, in our Western societies, to speak in a meaningful way of salvation. Yet salvation — deliverance from the reality of evil, and the gift of new life and freedom in Christ — is at the heart of the Gospel. We need to discover, as I have suggested, new and engaging ways of proclaiming this message and awakening a thirst for the fulfillment which only Christ can bring. It is in the Church's liturgy, and above all in the sacrament of the Eucharist, that these realities are most powerfully expressed and lived in the life of believers; perhaps we still have much to do in realizing the Council's vision of the liturgy as the exercise of the common priesthood and the impetus for a fruitful apostolate in the world.
Second, we need to acknowledge with concern the almost complete eclipse of an eschatological sense in many of our traditionally Christian societies. As you know, I have pointed to this problem in the Encyclical Spe Salvi. Suffice it to say that faith and hope are not limited to this world: as theological virtues, they unite us with the Lord and draw us toward the fulfillment not only of our personal destiny but also that of all creation. Faith and hope are the inspiration and basis of our efforts to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. In Christianity, there can be no room for purely private religion: Christ is the Savior of the world, and, as members of his Body and sharers in his prophetic, priestly and royal munera, we cannot separate our love for him from our commitment to the building up of the Church and the extension of his Kingdom. To the extent that religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul.
Let me conclude by stating the obvious. The fields are still ripe for harvesting (cf. Jn 4:35); God continues to give the growth (cf. 1 Cor 3:6). We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 86). What is needed above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing (cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today's challenges and a commitment to unity in the service of the Church's mission to the present generation.
3. The Holy Father is asked to comment on the decline in vocations despite the growing numbers of the Catholic population, and on the reasons for hope offered by the personal qualities and the thirst for holiness which characterize the candidates who do come forward.
Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a local Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God continues to call young people; it is up to all of us to encourage a generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us can take this grace for granted.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer — the unum necessarium — is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue!
Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord's will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God's call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God's call.
It has been noted that there is a growing thirst for holiness in many young people today, and that, although fewer in number, those who come forward show great idealism and much promise. It is important to listen to them, to understand their experiences, and to encourage them to help their peers to see the need for committed priests and religious, as well as the beauty of a life of sacrificial service to the Lord and his Church. To my mind, much is demanded of vocation directors and formators: candidates today, as much as ever, need to be given a sound intellectual and human formation which will enable them not only to respond to the real questions and needs of their contemporaries, but also to mature in their own conversion and to persevere in life-long commitment to their vocation. As Bishops, you are conscious of the sacrifice demanded when you are asked to release one of your finest priests for seminary work. I urge you to respond with generosity, for the good of the whole Church.
Finally, I think you know from experience that most of your brother priests are happy in their vocation. What I said in my address about the importance of unity and cooperation within the presbyterate applies here too. There is a need for all of us to move beyond sterile divisions, disagreements and preconceptions, and to listen together to the voice of the Spirit who is guiding the Church into a future of hope. Each of us knows how important priestly fraternity has been in our lives. That fraternity is not only a precious possession, but also an immense resource for the renewal of the priesthood and the raising up of new vocations. I would close by encouraging you to foster opportunities for ever greater dialogue and fraternal encounter among your priests, and especially the younger priests. I am convinced that this will bear great fruit for their own enrichment, for the increase of their love for the priesthood and the Church, and for the effectiveness of their apostolate.
Dear Brother Bishops. with these few observations, I once more encourage all of you in your ministry to the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, and I commend you to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Mother of the Church.
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Before leaving, I would like to pause to acknowledge the immense suffering endured by the people of God in the Archdiocese of New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina, as well as their courage in the challenging work of rebuilding. I would like to present Archbishop Alfred Hughes with a chalice, which I hope will be accepted as a sign of my prayerful solidarity with the faithful of the Archdiocese, and my personal gratitude for the tireless devotion which he and Archbishops Philip Hannan and Francis Schulte showed toward the flock entrusted to their care.
Friday, April 18, 2008
INDIANA - ILLINOIS QUAKE
THE ACTUAL PRACTICE SACRIFICE WAS DONE ON APR 8,2008
EARTH DESTROYED WITH THE EARTH
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.(WORLD TERRORISM,MURDERS)
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence (TERRORISM) through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:(ETHNIC GROUP AGAINST ETHNIC GROUP) and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
Quake near Illinois-Indiana border shakes Midwest
ASSOCIATED PRESS • April 18, 2008
WEST SALEM, Ill. — A 5.4 earthquake that appeared to rival the strongest recorded in the region rocked people awake as far away as Milwaukee early today, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful Midwest temblor.The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered 6 miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles from Evansville, Ind. It awakened people in neighboring Indiana and even Milwaukee, Wis., 350 miles north of the epicenter.It shook our house where it woke me up, said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of Champaign. Windows were rattling, and you could hear it. The house was shaking inches. For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It's not like California.The quake also shook tall buildings in downtown Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of the epicenter.
Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Todd Ringle in Evansville said there were no immediate reports of damage.The quake occurred in the Illinois basin-Ozark dome region that covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, and stretches from Indianapolis and St. Louis to Memphis, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.The organization's Web site said earthquakes occur irregularly in the area, and that the largest historical earthquake in the region — also a magnitude 5.4 — caused damage in southern Illinois in 1968.
POPES INTERRELIGIOUS SPEECH APR 17,08 WASHINGTON
ZE08041708 - 2008-04-17
Papal Address to Interreligious Leaders
A United Society Can Indeed Arise From a Plurality of Peoples
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today to an interreligious meeting at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. The theme of the meeting was Peace Our Hope.
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My dear friends,
I am pleased to have this occasion to meet with you today. I thank Bishop Sklba for his words of welcome, and I cordially greet all those in attendance representing various religions in the United States of America. Several of you kindly accepted the invitation to compose the reflections contained in today's program. For your thoughtful words on how each of your traditions bears witness to peace, I am particularly grateful. Thank you all.
This country has a long history of cooperation between different religions in many spheres of public life. Interreligious prayer services during the national feast of Thanksgiving, joint initiatives in charitable activities, a shared voice on important public issues: these are some ways in which members of different religions come together to enhance mutual understanding and promote the common good. I encourage all religious groups in America to persevere in their collaboration and thus enrich public life with the spiritual values that motivate your action in the world.
The place where we are now gathered was founded specifically for promoting this type of collaboration. Indeed, the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center seeks to offer a Christian voice to the human search for meaning and purpose in life in a world of varied religious, ethnic and cultural communities (Mission Statement). This institution reminds us of this nation's conviction that all people should be free to pursue happiness in a way consonant with their nature as creatures endowed with reason and free will.
Americans have always valued the ability to worship freely and in accordance with their conscience. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and observer of American affairs, was fascinated with this aspect of the nation. He remarked that this is a country in which religion and freedom are intimately linked in contributing to a stable democracy that fosters social virtues and participation in the communal life of all its citizens. In urban areas, it is common for individuals from different cultural backgrounds and religions to engage with one another daily in commercial, social and educational settings. Today, in classrooms throughout the country, young Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and indeed children of all religions sit side-by-side, learning with one another and from one another. This diversity gives rise to new challenges that spark a deeper reflection on the core principles of a democratic society. May others take heart from your experience, realizing that a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples -- E pluribus unum: out of many, one -- provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right (cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 2).
The task of upholding religious freedom is never completed. New situations and challenges invite citizens and leaders to reflect on how their decisions respect this basic human right. Protecting religious freedom within the rule of law does not guarantee that peoples -- particularly minorities -- will be spared from unjust forms of discrimination and prejudice. This requires constant effort on the part of all members of society to ensure that citizens are afforded the opportunity to worship peaceably and to pass on their religious heritage to their children.
The transmission of religious traditions to succeeding generations not only helps to preserve a heritage; it also sustains and nourishes the surrounding culture in the present day. The same holds true for dialogue between religions; both the participants and society are enriched. As we grow in understanding of one another, we see that we share an esteem for ethical values, discernable to human reason, which are revered by all peoples of goodwill. The world begs for a common witness to these values. I therefore invite all religious people to view dialogue not only as a means of enhancing mutual understanding, but also as a way of serving society at large. By bearing witness to those moral truths which they hold in common with all men and women of goodwill, religious groups will exert a positive influence on the wider culture, and inspire neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens to join in the task of strengthening the ties of solidarity. In the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: no greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of faith.
A concrete example of the contribution religious communities make to civil society is faith-based schools. These institutions enrich children both intellectually and spiritually. Led by their teachers to discover the divinely bestowed dignity of each human being, young people learn to respect the beliefs and practices of others, thus enhancing a nation's civic life.
What an enormous responsibility religious leaders have: to imbue society with a profound awe and respect for human life and freedom; to ensure that human dignity is recognized and cherished; to facilitate peace and justice; to teach children what is right, good and reasonable!
There is a further point I wish to touch upon here. I have noticed a growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. These are praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom, interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace. The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace (Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3).
We are living in an age when these questions are too often marginalized. Yet they can never be erased from the human heart. Throughout history, men and women have striven to articulate their restlessness with this passing world. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Psalms are full of such expressions: My spirit is overwhelmed within me (Ps 143:4; cf. Ps 6:6; 31:10; 32:3; 38:8; 77:3); why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me? (Ps 42:5). The response is always one of faith: Hope in God, I will praise him still; my Savior and my God (Ps 42:5, 11; cf. Ps 43:5; 62:5). Spiritual leaders have a special duty, and we might say competence, to place the deeper questions at the forefront of human consciousness, to reawaken mankind to the mystery of human existence, and to make space in a frenetic world for reflection and prayer.
Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue (cf. Lk 10:25-37; Jn 4:7-26).
Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth. In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God. We are able to perceive that peace is a heavenly gift that calls us to conform human history to the divine order. Herein lies the truth of peace (cf. Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace).
As we have seen then, the higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets. In this regard, colleges, universities and study centers are important forums for a candid exchange of religious ideas. The Holy See, for its part, seeks to carry forward this important work through the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, and various Pontifical Universities.
Dear friends, let our sincere dialogue and cooperation inspire all people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny. May the followers of all religions stand together in defending and promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task -- through dialogue and countless small acts of love, understanding and compassion -- we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family.
Peace upon you all!2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
ABBAS WANTS MOSCOW MEETING
25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;(MASS CONFUSION) the sea and the waves roaring;(FIERCE WINDS)
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
RM north of Prince Albert battling flood waters
Thu Apr 17, 4:54 PM
SASKATCHEWAN (CBC) - Spring flooding is causing problems north of Prince Albert, Sask.In the rural municipality of Paddockwood, north of the city, roads have been washed out in many places, while high runoff levels have washed out 42 culverts in the area.The RM has declared a state of emergency, and highways officials are busy evaluating the situation.Two families have been forced to leave their homes, said RM Paddockwood reeve Brent Zbaraschuk.They were starting to get flooded out, especially their roads, he said. If there's ever an emergency on the farm and people have to get out, we didn't want people to be stranded.It should take two to three weeks to repair all the roads in the area, Zbaraschuk said.
In other rural areas north of Prince Albert, many roads have been breached to help pass the high flows, according to the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.Flooding has also caused problems at the village of Invermay's sewer and water system.The authority said it also expects to see high water levels on Fishing Lake and Waldsea Lake - both of which experienced severe flooding last year, resulting in dozens of families being flooded out of their homes.
Record levels are expected at Deadmoose Lake, Houghton Lake and Lake Lenore in the next few weeks.Water levels on those lakes are expected to rise slowly over the next few weeks. Flows are also starting to rise on the North Saskatchewan River, with ice on the river expected to start breaking up over next few days.
Spring snowstorm strikes Whitehorse, Yellowknife
Thu Apr 17, 12:29 PM
Any emerging signs of spring in Whitehorse and Yellowknife are covered in snow again Thursday, thanks to a late storm that's giving people another shot of winter.An intense low-pressure system is to blame for the late winter storms, which struck Whitehorse late Wednesday, and moved to Yellowknife and the surrounding Great Slave area early Thursday.Environment Canada ended a winter storm warning for Yellowknife by Thursday afternoon, but maintained similar warnings in Lutsel K'e, Fort Resolution, Hay River, Enterprise and Fort Smith. It had forecasted 10 to 20 centimetres of snow to fall in the area.The snow turned rush hour to slush hour Wednesday afternoon in Whitehorse, as vehicles spun out of control on all the main routes leading out of the city's downtown.City bylaw officer Mike Hardie told CBC News that Two Mile Hill was hardest hit, with the wintry mess shutting down traffic for about half an hour. Other main roads were also affected, he said.
Mountainview and the South Access, we had reports of vehicles not being able to make it up the hill, Hardie said late Wednesday.Tow trucks, snowplows and emergency vehicles were all called out for emergency duty that afternoon and evening.Paramedics, police and fire crews reported to fenderbenders and accidents reported across the city.Hardie predicted the snarled traffic scenario would repeat itself Thursday morning unless drivers take precautions.It's still winter in the Yukon, so let's just drive safe and drive to road conditions, he said.
Two storms impact the Midwest and Northwest James Wilson
Thu Apr 17, 3:38 PM ET
Low pressure, accompanied by a cold front, will track from Missouri early Friday to Lower Michigan Sunday before exiting into the Northeast. The rain and thunderstorms in the Mississippi Valley will shift eastward through the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley with the heaviest rain up to 3 inches falling across parts of Iowa, northern Illinois, southeast Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ahead of the storm, high temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees above average (70s) Friday across southern Michigan and the eastern Ohio Valley. A new vigorous cold front, accompanied by gusty winds, will move through the West Friday and Saturday and swing out into the high Plains later Sunday. High temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees above average up and down the Plains Saturday which translates into 70s and a few low 80s. A few showers will pop in North Dakota Sunday. Sunday night into Monday, accumulating snow could fall in the central and western Dakotas as the cold front continues to surge eastward and scattered showers and thunderstorms will begin to increase from the eastern Plains into the Mississippi Valley Monday.
A cold front, accompanied from showers and thunderstorms, will advance from the south-central states to the Southeast Coast over the next 3 days. Severe storms will be limited to Louisiana and southern Mississippi Friday. Most all of the thunderstorms will stay below severe limits in the Southeast on Saturday. Highs Friday will range from the 70s and 80s in the Southeast and southern high Plains to the 60s in the Ark-La-Tex. On Saturday, highs will range from the 60s in the Tennessee Valley to the 80s and a few 90s in Texas. Monday through Thursday, a front will gradually roll out and stall from the Texas Panhandle to the Virginia-North Carolina border. Showers and thunderstorms will increase in the vicinity of this front.
Friday and Saturday will be warm dry days across the Northeast. For many, highs will be 10 to 20 degrees above average. On Friday, afternoon temperatures will range from the 50s and 60s in Maine to the 70s and low 80s in the Mid-Atlantic. On Saturday, a backdoor cold front will move southward through eastern New England, limiting highs to the 40s and 50s in Maine and the 60s in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island while the remainder of the region enjoys highs similar to Friday. The Midwest storm will approach the Northeast Sunday and move through the region Monday and early Tuesday. Rain and a few thunderstorms will accompany this system, ending gradually from west to east on Monday. After a dry Tuesday, a new cold front will bring more scattered showers and thunderstorms into the region Tuesday night and Wednesday.
A strong windy cold front will sweep through the West this weekend. By late Friday and Saturday, snow levels will drop to between 500 and 1000 feet in western Washington and to 4000 feet in northern California. By Sunday, daytime temperatures will range from the upper teens to low 30s across most of Montana, some 20 to 30 degrees below average. Locally heavy wind-driven snow will move across the Northwest from the Cascades to the Teton and Bitterroots to the high Plains of Montana. Some foot-plus accumulations are possible. Meanwhile, across the Southwest, strong gusty winds and very low humidity will cause blowing dust and fuel an extremely high fire danger.
Glacial lake transformed to titanic torrent Thu Apr 17, 6:34PM ET
WASHINGTON - For an hour or so Greenland had its own mighty waterfall, flowing secretly at three times the volume of Niagara. A meltwater lake on the surface of a glacier suddenly emptied in July 2006, sending millions of gallons of water through cracks in the ice sheet to the ground where it could affect the movement of the ice. The lake covered 2.2 square miles near the western edge of the ice sheet and took about 24 hours to drain.During the most rapid 90 minutes, water was flowing out of the lake at a rate of 2.3 million gallons per second, according to researchers led by Sarah Das of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Mass.Under international convention, the minimum flow of Niagara Falls in summer is about 750,000 gallons per second.The findings are reported in a pair of papers about the Greenland ice sheet appearing in Thursday's online edition of the journal Science. Das and Ian Joughin of the University of Washington in Seattle led the teams that produced both papers.We found clear evidence that supraglacial lakes — the pools of meltwater that form on the surface in summer — can actually drive a crack through the ice sheet, Das said in a statement.
If there is a crack or defect in the surface that is large enough, and a sufficient reservoir of water to keep that crack filled, it can create a conduit all the way down to the bed of the ice sheet, she said.The researchers concluded that while surface melt plays a significant role in overall ice sheet dynamics, it has less of an effect than had been expected on the fast-moving glaciers that discharge ice to the ocean.The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, NASA, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Clark Arctic Research Initiative and the Natural Environment Research Council of Britain.On the Net:Science: http://www.sciencemag.org
26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.
27 Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened (Daylight hours shortened)
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
March the warmest on record over world land surfaces By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer APR 18,08
WASHINGTON - Planet Earth continues to run a fever. Last month was the warmest March on record over land surfaces of the world and the second warmest overall worldwide. For the United States, however, it was just an average March, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday. NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said high temperatures over much of Asia pulled the worldwide land temperature up to an average of 40.8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.9 degrees Celsius), 3.2 degrees (1.8 C) warmer than the average in the 20th century.While Asia had its greatest January snow cover this year, warm March readings caused a rapid melt and March snow cover on the continent was a record low.Global ocean temperatures were the 13th warmest on record, with a weakening of the La Nina conditions that cool the tropical Pacific Ocean.
Overall land and sea surface temperatures for the world were second highest in 129 years of record keeping, trailing only 2002, the agency said.Warming conditions in recent decades have continued to raise concern about global climate change, which many weather and climate experts believe is related to gases released into the atmosphere by industrial and transportation processes.The climate center said that for the 48 contiguous United States it was about average, ranking as the 63rd warmest March in 113 years of record keeping.The average temperature for the U.S. in March was 42 degrees, 0.4 degrees below the 20th century mean.The agency said only Rhode Island, New Mexico and Arizona were warmer than average, while near-average temperatures occurred in 39 other states. The monthly temperature for Alaska was the 17th warmest on record.
The snow pack declined in many parts of the West in March, but the Western snow pack remains the best in more than a decade thanks to heavy snowfall December through February.For the month, nine states from Oklahoma to Vermont were much wetter than average, with Missouri experiencing its second wettest March on record.Moderate to extreme drought remains in much of the Southeast despite rainfall in the middle of the month.On the Net.Complete analysis: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2008/mar/mar08.html
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse:(CHLORES GREEN) and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword,(WEAPONS) and with hunger,(FAMINE) and with death,(INCURABLE DISEASES) and with the beasts of the earth.(ANIMAL TO HUMAN DISEASE).
Study finds mercury in birds near polluted rivers APR 18,08
WASHINGTON - Mercury contamination in rivers can spread to nearby birds, even ones that don't eat fish or other food from the water.
Researchers from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., found high levels of mercury in the blood of land-feeding songbirds living near the South River, a tributary of the Shenandoah, they report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
The South River was contaminated with industrial mercury sulfate from 1930 to 1950 and it remains under a fish consumption advisory.
But the researchers led by Dan Cristol, an associate professor of biology, studied birds that only eat insects that live on land.
Spiders made up the largest part of the birds' diet, along with moths and grasshoppers, the researchers said.It turned out the spiders were the source of the mercury.The birds eat a lot of spiders. Spiders are like little tiny wolves, basically, and they'll bioaccumulate lots of contaminants in the environment. The spiders have a lot of mercury in them and are delivering the mercury to these songbirds, Cristol said in a statement.The next question to be answered: How are the spiders getting the mercury?
The researchers speculated it could be from eating aquatic insects, or the chemical could have been deposited on land during flooding.
The research was funded by E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, the College of William and Mary and the U.S. National Science Foundation.On the Net:Science: http://www.sciencemag.org
DRUG PUSHERS AND ADDICTS
23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries (DRUGS) were all nations deceived.
21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries (DRUGS), nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
Study links incontinence drugs with memory problems By CARLA K. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer Thu Apr 17, 7:30 PM ET
CHICAGO - Commonly used incontinence drugs may cause memory problems in some older people, a study has found. Our message is to be careful when using these medicines, said U.S. Navy neurologist Dr. Jack Tsao, who led the study. It may be better to use diapers and be able to think clearly than the other way around.Urinary incontinence sometimes can be resolved with non-drug treatments, he added, so patients should ask about alternatives. Exercises, biofeedback and keeping to a schedule of bathroom breaks work for many.U.S. sales of prescription drugs to treat urinary problems topped $3 billion in 2007, according to IMS Health, which tracks drug sales. Bladder control trouble affects about one in 10 people age 65 and older, according to the National Institute on Aging, which helped fund the study. Women are more likely to be affected than men. Causes include nerve damage, loss of muscle tone or, in men, enlarged prostate.
The research began after Tsao met a 73-year-old patient. Shortly after starting an incontinence drug, she began hallucinating conversations with dead relatives and having memory problems. Her thinking improved when she stopped the drug for several months.Tsao and his colleagues knew of similar reports. They decided to look at a large group of people to see if they could measure an effect of these and other medications that affect acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that shuttles signals through the brain and the rest of the nervous system. The drugs block some nerve impulses, such as spasms of the bladder.The findings, released Thursday at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, come from an analysis of the medication use and cognitive test scores of 870 older Catholic priests, nuns and brothers who participated in the Religious Orders Study at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center. The average age was 75.Researchers tracked them for nearly eight years, testing yearly for cognitive decline. They asked them to recite strings of numbers backward and forward, to name as many different kinds of fruit as they could in one minute and to complete other challenges during the annual testing.Nearly 80 percent of the study participants took one or more of a class of drugs called anticholinergics, including drugs for high blood pressure, asthma, Parkinson's disease and incontinence drugs such as Detrol and Ditropan.The people who took the drugs had a 50 percent faster rate of cognitive decline compared to those who didn't take any. The researchers considered other risk factors for memory loss, such as age, and still found the link. The researchers found no increased risk for the memory-robbing disorder Alzheimer's in people taking the drugs.
The incontinence drugs were among the most potent and were the most frequently taken of all the anticholinergics in the study. That's why the researchers believe they are driving the memory problems, Tsao said.Some experts said the research supports previous observations and is helpful because it measures the size of the effect.This paper adds important new data to the picture, said Dr. Elaine Perry of Newcastle University in England, who has done similar research but was not involved in the new study.More research is needed on the effects of anticholinergic drugs on memory, Tsao said. Doctors should do baseline cognitive testing on patients before prescribing the drugs, he recommended.A representative of Pfizer Inc., maker of the top-selling Detrol, said patients should always talk to their doctors about problems while taking medication.Detrol has been on the market since 1998. It has been prescribed more than 100 million times worldwide, said Ponni Subbiah, Pfizer's vice president of medical affairs, in an e-mail response to questions.Confusion and memory impairment were added to prescribing information for Detrol in 2006, Subbiah said, after some patients reported the problems. Since the reports weren't part of a medical study, the frequency of events and the role of Detrol in their causation cannot be reliably determined, he said.On the Net: American Academy of Neurology: http://www.aan.com/
HOARDING OF GOLD AND SILVER
DOCTOR DOCTORIAN FROM ANGEL OF GOD
then the angel said, Financial crisis will come to Asia. I will shake the world.
1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
19 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.
16 And he(FALSE POPE) causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:(CHIP IMPLANT)
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.(6-6-6) A NUMBER SYSTEM
Economy sends signals of more weakness to come By ELLEN SIMON, AP Business Writer Thu Apr 17, 1:25 PM ET
NEW YORK - Higher unemployment claims and weak readings from two economic indexes reinforced recession worries Thursday. The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits rose to 372,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week.Separately, the New York-based Conference Board's gauge of future economic activity rose 0.1 percent for March, reversing five months of decline. But the private business group's indicator has shown a 3.3 percent annual rate of decline since March 2007.That's the kind of result, that whenever we've seen it in the past, the U.S. economy has been heading into a recession, Michael Gregory, senior economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns, a Toronto investment bank. The recession signal here is clear and unequivocal.Stocks drooped following a rally Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 30.78, or 0.24 percent, to 12,588.49, in afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 5.41, or 0.40 percent, to 1,359.30, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 18.80, or 0.80 percent, to 2,331.31.The Conference Board index is designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months based on 10 economic components, including stock prices, building permits and initial claims for unemployment benefits.The Conference Board said another of its indexes, which measures current economic activity, has also deteriorated in recent months, with weakness becoming more widespread among the components of both.
The readings suggest economic weakness is likely to continue in the near term, Ken Goldstein, labor economist at the Conference Board, said in a statement accompanying the report.The jobless numbers told the same story. The four-week average for jobless claims was 376,000, down only slightly from 376,750, the previous week. Aside from the period in the fall of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, the four-week average for claims has risen to levels last seen in 2003 when the country was mired in a long jobless recovery after the 2001recession.Claims have been unusually volatile in recent weeks, falling by 51,000 two weeks ago after having risen by 35,000 the week before that. Analysts said that claims have been difficult to read because of trouble the government is having adjusting the figures for seasonal changes to reflect this year's unusually early Easter and because of the impact of a strike at a key parts supplier for General Motors.While the weekly unemployment claims were in line with economists' expectations, those expectations, overall, are grim.Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, said the claims average for the past two months has risen to a level similar to the start of the 2001 recession. He said he expected claims to keep rising in coming months and be above 400,000 on a weekly basis by this summer.
We can think of no good reason why claims should now level off and plenty of reasons why they should be expected to rise further, Shepherdson said.In March, the unemployment rate jumped to 5.1 percent as businesses cut 80,000 jobs, the biggest drop in payrolls in five years. Many economists believe that was the most dramatic indication to date that the country has fallen into a recession.
Meanwhile, the weakest business outlook report since 2001 from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve added to pessimism. The Philadelphia Fed regional survey of manufacturing demand and plans for capital spending showed new factory orders, shipments and employment dropping, its fifth straight reading below zero. A figure above zero indicates regional manufacturing is growing, while a number below zero indicates a decline.The index deteriorated from -17.4 in March to -24.9 this month. In the past, such streaks have indicated the economy is either in a recession or on the verge of falling into one, according to Bear Stearns economist John Ryding.Of the companies in the survey, 38 percent reported decreased activity in March, while demand for manufactured goods fell 18.8 percent.Cost increases continue to be widespread, according to the report, and more firms reported increased prices for their own manufactured goods this month. Associated Press Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this
5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.(A DAYS WAGES FOR A LOAF OF BREAD)
Gas prices pass $3.40 a gallon, are expected to rise higher By JOHN WILEN, AP Business Writer Thu Apr 17, 3:27 PM ET
NEW YORK - Retail gas prices pushed past a record high $3.40 a gallon Thursday, fulfilling expectations that they'll keep climbing toward $4 as the summer driving season approaches. Oil prices, meanwhile, fell slightly after setting yet another record high overnight. Analysts said investors were locking in gains from crude's ongoing rally.At the pump, the average national price of a gallon of unleaded gas rose 1.9 cents overnight to $3.418 a gallon, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Diesel fuel also hit a new record of $4.146 a gallon after jumping 1.7 cents overnight, the survey said.The soaring cost of both fuels is pressuring consumers, who gas up their cars and buy goods that grow more expensive because of rising transportation costs. And their plight will only worsen; many analysts expect average national gas prices to peak close to $4 a gallon later in the spring. Prices are already that high in some parts of the country, including California.With gas reaching another milestone, analysts are questioning whether consumers, who have already curtailed their driving over the past month, will cut back further in response to rising prices. They point to the trends seen last year in California; when prices soared past $3.40 a gallon in the state last November, demand plummeted by 3.7 percent.
Some analysts see California's experience as a sign that a plunge in national demand could also occur. Still, when summer arrives, demand will rise regardless of how high prices have soared.July and August will be very busy, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J. If you've got a vacation planned to Disney World or something, you're still going to take the vacation.This expectation of higher summer demand is boosting gas prices now, but prices are also rising because refiners are switching over from winter grade gasoline to the more expensive but less polluting fuel they're required to sell in the summer. That has pulled supplies lower lately as refiners try to sell off all of their winter fuel. Short supplies of key blending components needed for summer gasoline are exacerbating the problem.Oil, meanwhile, has spiked higher on concerns about falling supplies and rising global demand, and as a weaker dollar has attracted speculative investors to crude futures. Crude rose to a new trading record of $115.54 overnight as the dollar fell to a new low against the euro, but later pulled back when the dollar strengthened.Light, sweet crude for May delivery fell 7 cents from Wednesday's close to settle at $114.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the contract's first lower close in a week.
Commodities such as oil are seen by many investors as a hedge against inflation and a weaker dollar. A falling dollar also makes oil cheaper to overseas investors. The effect tends to reverse when the U.S. currency strengthens.Crude prices have jumped more than 4 percent this week due in part to the falling dollar, but also because of supply and demand concerns in the U.S. and abroad. Domestic gasoline and crude supplies fell last week. Meanwhile, Russian oil production dropped this year for the first time in a decade, according to an International Energy Agency report. China's economy continues to grow at a breakneck pace, demanding more oil and fuel. And the Federal Reserve is expected to cut interest rates at least twice more this year, which will further weaken the dollar.
The combination of all these factors will push oil prices even higher in coming weeks, said James Cordier, president of Tampa, Fla., trading firms Liberty Trading Group and OptionSellers.com.I think we're going at least to $125, he said. That'll probably translate to about $3.80 (a gallon) at the pump.In other Nymex trading Thursday, May gasoline futures rose 1.88 cents to settle at a record $2.9578 a gallon after earlier rising to a trading record of $2.9749 a gallon. May heating oil futures fell 1.56 cents to settle at $3.2674 a gallon. May natural gas futures fell 5 cents to settle at $10.383 per 1,000 cubic feet.In London, Brent crude futures fell 23 cents to settle at $112.43 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.Associated Press writers Pablo Gorondi in Budapest and Gillian Wong in Singapore contributed to this report.
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.(VATICAN IN POLITICS)
Pope prays with victims of clergy sex abuse scandal By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer APR 18,08
WASHINGTON - Pope Benedict XVI prayed with tearful victims of clergy sex abuse in a chapel Thursday, an extraordinary gesture from a pontiff who has made atoning for the great shame of the U.S. church the cornerstone of his first papal trip to America.
Benedict's third day in the U.S. began with a packed open-air Mass celebrated in 10 languages at a baseball stadium, and it included a speech to Roman Catholic college and university presidents.But the real drama happened privately, in the chapel of the papal embassy between events.The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a papal spokesman, said that Benedict and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley met with a group of five or six abuse victims for about 25 minutes, offering them encouragement and hope. The group from O'Malley's archdiocese were all adults, men and women, who had been molested when they were minors. Each spoke privately with the pope and the whole group prayed together.One of the victims, Bernie McDaid, told The Associated Press, that he shook the pope's hand, told him he was an altar boy and had been abused by a priest in the sacristy of his parish. The abuse, he told Benedict, was not only sexual but spiritual.I said, Holy Father, you need to know you have a cancer in your flock and I hope you will do something for this problem, you have to fix this, McDaid said.He looked down at the floor and back at me, like,I know what you mean. He took it in emotionally. We looked eye to eye.McDaid said the importance of the moment has not sunk in, but that he and others had waited a long time for it, and that if everyone wants change, then change will occur.
Olan Horne, another Boston-area victim who prayed and talked with Benedict, told the AP, there was an ... unscripted, unfiltered opportunity face-to-face. I believe we turned the pope's head a little in the right direction.Both men have worked with church officials in the aftermath of the crisis, including meeting with a new office established by U.S. bishops in response to the scandal.
O'Malley had invited Benedict to Boston as part of his U.S. journey, and when that didn't work out, the cardinal kept in touch with the papal nuncio, Benedict's representative in the U.S., to see if it was possible to put him in touch with victims during the visit, said the Rev. John Connolly, a special assistant to O'Malley.
The desire to do this was definitely from the Holy Father, Connolly said.The pope ultimately asked O'Malley to invite a small group of victims who were both open to meeting him and would derive a spiritual benefit, Connolly said.Well over 4,000 priests have been accused of molesting minors in the U.S. since 1950. The church has paid out more than $2 billion, much of it in just the last six years, after the case of a serial molester in Boston gained national attention and inspired many victims to step forward. Six dioceses have been forced into bankruptcy because of abuse costs.
Expected to address the problem only once during his six-day trip — at a Mass with priests in New York City on Saturday — Benedict has instead returned to the issue repeatedly, beginning in a news conference on the flight from Rome to the U.S.He has called the crisis a cause of deep shame, pledged to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood and decried the enormous pain that communities have suffered from such gravely immoral behavior by priests.On Wednesday, he told bishops the problem has sometimes been very badly handled and said it was their God-given duty to heal the wounds caused by abuse. He asked each parishioner at Mass on Thursday to do what you can to foster healing and reconciliation, and to assist those who have been hurt.But Thursday afternoon's session went a step further. Lombardi said it was believed to be the first-ever such session between a pope and abuse victims.Gary Bergeron, an outspoken abuse survivor from Boston who was not in the meeting, failed in his attempt to meet with Pope John Paul II, Benedict's predecessor, when he spent a week at the Vatican a few years ago. He called the session a long-sought-for step in the right direction.Lombardi said that O'Malley presented the pope with a notebook listing the names of sexual abuse victims from the Boston Archdiocese. There were more than 1,000, he said. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called the meeting a positive first step on a very long road. The group, which has been fiercely critical of the church, said it hopes the meeting will lead to reform in how church leaders respond to abuse claims. The session came just hours after the pope celebrated the first public Mass of his U.S. pilgrimage. More than 45,000 people filled Nationals Park on a clear spring day as the pope led the service from an altar erected in centerfield.
In his homily, Benedict called the United States a land of opportunity and hope but decried that the nation's promise has been left unfulfilled for some. He said he detected anger and alienation, increasing violence and a growing forgetfulness of God.
Americans have always been a people of hope, the pontiff said. Your ancestors came to this country with the experience of finding new freedom and opportunity. To be sure, this promise was not experienced by all the inhabitants of this land; one thinks of the injustices endured by the native American peoples and by those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves.Later, the pope told leaders of America's Roman Catholic colleges and universities that academic freedom has great value for the schools, but it does not justify promoting positions that violate the Catholic faith. Also Thursday, the pope met with Jewish and Muslim leaders, along with leaders of other faiths, and affirmed the church's commitment to interreligious dialogue. At 5:45 a.m., more than four hours before the Mass, it was standing-room only on Washington subways. Vendors hawked Vatican flags and souvenir buttons, but there were few takers as people hurried toward the stadium.
The Catholic faithful were excited to see Benedict. At the end of the two-hour Mass, the pope blessed the cheering crowd, some of them waving Vatican flags. Worried-looking papal bodyguards stood close and cleared a way for him as he walked out, while many worshippers tried to shake his hand or touch his robes. A number of lawmakers who support abortion rights attended the Mass, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate. During the 2004 campaign, several bishops questioned whether Kerry should receive Communion because of his stand on abortion. The Massachusetts Democrat who took Communion from a priest far from the papal altar. For some, the experience of Mass with Benedict was overwhelming. It made Barbara Loh of Williamsburg, Va., tear up. I've been Catholic all my life, she said. My dream has always been to see the pope.AP Religion Writers Eric Gorski and Rachel Zoll contributed to this report.
LAND FOR PEACE (THE FUTURE 7 YEARS OF HELL ON EARTH)
2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
THE WEEK OF DANIEL 9:27 WE KNOW ITS 7 YRS
Heres the scripture 1 week = 7 yrs Genesis 29:27-29
27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.
26 And after threescore and two weeks(62X7=434 YEARS+7X7=49 YEARS=TOTAL OF 69 WEEKS OR 483 YRS) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;(ROMAN LEADERS DESTROYED THE 2ND TEMPLE) and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.(THERE HAS TO BE 70 WEEKS OR 490 YRS TO FUFILL THE VISION AND PROPHECY OF DAN 9:24).(THE NEXT VERSE IS THAT 7 YR WEEK OR (70TH FINAL WEEK).
27 And he( THE ROMAN,EU PRESIDENT) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:(1X7=7 YEARS) and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,(3 1/2 yrs in TEMPLE SACRIFICES STOPPED) and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
ISAIAH 28:14-19 (THIS IS THE 7 YR TREATY COVENANT OF DANIEL 9:27)
14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.
15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.
Carter meets with more Hamas leaders, defends peace efforts By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Writer Thu Apr 17, 7:31 PM ET
CAIRO, Egypt - Jimmy Carter held another meeting with officials from the Islamic militant group Hamas on Thursday, arguing it is necessary to talk to all parties to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel. The former U.S. president said he urged Hamas leaders from the Gaza Strip to stop militants from firing rockets into southern Israel. The Cairo meeting came a day after Carter talked with Hamas officials in the West Bank, further angering Israelis when he embraced one of them.Making what he calls a private peace mission, Carter was scheduled to be in Syria on Friday for talks with Hamas' exiled political chief, Khaled Mashaal, and Syrian President Bashar Assad.Carter's meetings with Hamas, which Washington lists as a terrorist group, have drawn sharp criticism from Israelis, U.S. officials and some of Carter's fellow Democrats, including presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Carter again strongly defended his efforts to reach out to Hamas, which won Palestinian parliament elections in 2006.You can't have an agreement that must involve certain parties, unless you talk to those parties to conclude the agreement, he said in a speech at the American University in Cairo. You have to involve Hamas ... They have to be involved in some way.Carter said he told Hamas leaders from Gaza that they should stop rocket attacks on Israel, which have prompted deadly Israeli military assaults on the crowded Mediterranean coastal territory. Any killings of civilians is an act of terrorism, he said.He said that during his visit to Israel, the first stop on his trip, he saw rockets that had been fired by Hamas and met with people who lost loved ones.At the same time, if you live in Gaza, you know that for every Israeli killed in any kind of combat, between 30 to 40 Palestinians are killed because of the extreme military capability of Israel, Carter added.He criticized Israel's blockade of Gaza, which has left the territory short of fuel and consumer goods. He called it an atrocity.Carter's hours-long meeting with a Hamas delegation at a Cairo hotel was closed to journalists and held under heavy guard shortly after the American talked with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.The Hamas group, headed by Gaza leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siyam, was not available for comments after the session with Carter.Zahar, in a commentary published in The Washington Post on Thursday, said Carter's talks with Hamas were sensible and would bring honesty and pragmatism to the Middle East while underscoring the fact that American policy has reached its dead end.
Hamas officials have touted the meetings as a recognition of their legitimacy after their 2006 election victory.Hamas opposes peace negotiations with Israel and its charter calls for the Jewish state's destruction. The group has carried out deadly suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis that have the deaths of some 250 people.Carter lamented that very little progress has been made in the 30 years since he brokered Israel's historic peace treaty with Egypt, bringing him the Nobel Peace Prize.Israelis are suffering as well as Palestinians and they both need peace, he said.
After his stop in Syria, Carter plans to visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan before returning to Israel late Sunday. Associated Press writer Jessica Desvarieux contributed to this report.
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Hamas claims secret meetings with EU, Italy, Norway.Terror group hopes Jimmy Carter visit will encourage others to go public
April 16, 2008 8:30 pm Eastern By Aaron Klein 2008 WorldNetDaily
JERUSALEM – Hamas previously held meetings with European Union parliament members and with delegations from France, Italy and Norway who expressed interest in supporting and possibly establishing relations with the terrorist organization, Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas' spokesman in Gaza, told WND in an interview.Barhoum said he hoped former President Jimmy Carter's meetings this week with Hamas leaders would encourage European officials to make public their purported desire to support his group.The EU has denied meeting Hamas and lists the group as a terrorist organization. Italy has expressed interest in talking to Hamas, and Norway, not an EU member, met leading Hamas officials. France also has denied meeting Hamas.Barhoum told WND that prior to Carter's visit Hamas met a delegation from the European Parliament, and they are supporting the Palestinian legitimate rights and Palestinian democracy; and they emphasized their full support for Hamas, because Hamas is the democratic choice for the Palestinians.
There was a delegation from France, the government, and from Italy and Norway and from the EU parliament and from Carter, Barhoum said, speaking from Gaza. All of these are supporting Hamas, and they have a plan to support Palestinian rights and interests.The Hamas spokesman said there were several meetings between Hamas and Europe, and they want finally to support Hamas.Barhoum called Carter a very important and serious person. We think (his) meeting with us will encourage others who are already sending messages to us.Barhoum said we in Hamas, all the time, want to meet more and more European officers, including France and Italy and Norway, in order to support Palestinian legitimate rights.
Barhoum would not name any of the EU officials he claimed met with Hamas.The Italian government also denies its officials met with Hamas. But last August, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi broke with EU official policy stating Hamas should be helped so it works for peace.Hamas exists, and it is a very complex reality that we must help so it works for peace Prodi told reporters, drawing fire from Italian Jewish groups.Last July, Italy's Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Hamas is a significant and substantial part of the Palestinian people.France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has stated he does not support Hamas' takeover of Gaza and has opposed talks with the terrorist group. But under the previous French administration, the country supported a Russian bid to initiate dialogue with Hamas officials.It was previously reported Norway's deputy foreign minister, Raymond Johansan, last March met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who was then prime minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, which was deposed last year.A top source in Hamas said some of the meetings with European officials took place in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.The source previously told WND he held meetings in a European country with British and French diplomats. He said the diplomats expressed an understanding with Hamas' stated policy of accepting a cease-fire with Israel for up to 10 years.
In 2006, the Maan news agency, an independent Palestinian news outlet based in Ramallah and Bethlehem, quoted Hamas sources stating the terror group held meetings with European officials and with elements associated with the U.S. Democratic Party.A Hamas source speaking to WND this week said the Democrat elements referenced by Maan were associated with Carter and with other Democrat personalities he refused to name.The 2006 Maan report also quoted a Hamas source stating his group held meetings in a European country with representatives from the British and French governments.The U.S. and Israel have been trying to isolate Hamas, which is classified by the State Department as a terrorist group. It is responsible for scores of deadly suicide bombings, and thousands of shooting attacks and rocket firings against Israeli civilian population centers.Infuriating Israeli leaders, Carter yesterday met in Cairo with Hamas' two most senior leaders in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud al-Zahar and Saeed Seyam.The two are identified by both Israeli and Palestinian security officials as the two most senior leaders of Hamas' so-called military wing, which carries out terrorist activities from the Gaza Strip, including rocket strikes, suicide bombings, border raids, kidnappings and shooting attacks.
Al-Zahar, the chief of Hamas in Gaza, is leader of Hamas' most radical wing and is widely regarded as chief of the terror group's military wing. He served as the foreign minister in the Hamas-led Palestinian government, which was disbanded last year. Israeli officials say al-Zahar is more radical than Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' overall chief, who resides in Syria and is scheduled to meet with Carter later this week.At a rally in March last year, al-Zahar told a crowd of thousands that Hamas' short-term goal is to liberate Palestine. Our final goal, which will be achieved, is that Islam will enter every house and will spread all over the world.Seyam, who served as Hamas' interior minister, oversees Hamas' so-called Executive Force, the group's main militia. Seyam was one of the main architects of Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip last June, when the terror group expelled the U.S.-backed Fatah organization, overtaking all Fatah security compounds and reportedly seizing American weapons.According to Hamas' Barhoum, Carter first initiated a request to meet al-Zahar and Seyam.Monday, while visiting the West Bank, Carter attended a reception with Hamas leader Nasser Shaer. The reception was closed to the media, but according to participants and the Hamas leader, Carter hugged Shaer and kissed him on each cheek, the customary greeting for good friends. Many U.S. diplomats refrain from kissing Palestinian officials.He gave me a hug. We hugged each other, and it was a warm reception, Shaer told the Associated Press. Carter asked what he can do to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel ... and I told him the possibility for peace is high.Shaer previously served as deputy prime minister and education minister in the Hamas-led Palestinian government, which was toppled last year. He served time in Israeli prison after being charged with terrorist activities.According to Israeli security officials, Shaer functioned as a financial and communications link between cells of the Hamas organization in Gaza and in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.In a WND exclusive interview earlier this week, Ahmed Yousuf, Hamas' top political adviser in the Gaza Strip, called Carter a noble person whose planned meeting with Hamas would help the terror organization engage with the world community.
1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog,(RULER) the land of Magog,(RUSSIA) the chief prince of Meshech(MOSCOW)and Tubal,(TOBOLSK) and prophesy against him,
3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech(MOSCOW) and Tubal:
4 And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,(GOD FORCES THE MUSLIMS TO MARCH) and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
5 Persia,(IRAN,IRAQ) Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
6 Gomer,(GERMANY) and all his bands; the house of Togarmah (TURKEY)of the north quarters, and all his bands:(SUDAN,AFRICA) and many people with thee.
7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
9 Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.(RUSSIA-EGYPT AND MUSLIMS)
10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
3 They (ARABS,MUSLIMS) have taken crafty counsel against thy people,(ISRAEL) and consulted against thy hidden ones.
4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:(TREATIES)
6 The tabernacles of Edom,and the Ishmaelites;(ARABS) of Moab, and the Hagarenes;
7 Gebal, and Ammon,(JORDAN) and Amalek;(SYRIA) the Philistines (PALESTINIANS) with the inhabitants of Tyre;(LEBANON)
1 Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog,(LEADER OF RUSSIA) and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech (MOSCOW) and Tubal: (TUBOLSK)
2 And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts,(RUSSIA) and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.
4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands,( ARABS) and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
6 And I will send a fire on Magog,(NUCLEAR BOMB) and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
8 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken.
3 A fire(NUCLEAR BOMB) devoureth before them;(RUSSIA-ARABS) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
20 But I will remove far off from you the northern army,(RUSSIA,MUSLIMS) and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.(SIBERIAN DESERT)
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(NUCLEAR BOMB)
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
Abbas urges Middle East conference in Moscow by Ezzedine Said Thu Apr 17, 11:02 AM ET
MOSCOW (AFP) - Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas called on Thursday for a Middle East peace conference in Moscow as soon as possible, saying this was needed to spur talks with Israel that were moving too slowly. We want the Moscow conference to be held as soon as possible and we hope it will succeed in pushing the peace process forward, Abbas said in a lecture to Moscow university students.
Confirming that discussions were still under way on a date, Abbas said a new impetus was needed to follow up a conference last November hosted by US President George W. Bush in Annapolis, Maryland.I regret to say that there are obstacles hindering the application of what was agreed upon in Annapolis, said Abbas, whose visit was intended to lay the ground for the new conference.The negotiations are not advancing at the required pace or yielding the progress necessary for us to reach the agreed objectives by the agreed dates.Palestinian officials have mentioned June as a possible date for the conference but Russia's foreign ministry confirmed that the timing had not been finalised, Interfax news agency reported.Abbas is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.At the Annapolis meeting, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert formally restarted negotiations after a seven-year freeze in the peace process, aiming to conclude a comprehensive agreement by the end of 2008 -- just before Bush leaves office.But the negotiations have been weighed down, notably by violence in Gaza and Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories.On Wednesday in Gaza three Israeli soldiers and 18 Palestinians, one a cameraman for an international news agency, were killed in clashes near the border with Israel.Abbas again called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, saying that Egypt was helping broker a deal between the parties.Russia's foreign ministry also called for a ceasefire and said it would do what it could to help.It's necessary to make every effort to bring about a calming of the situation and a complete ceasefire.
Moscow affirms its readiness to help a Palestinian-Israeli resolution and talks between the commonly recognised Palestinian leader, Mahmud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the foreign ministry said in a statement.The United States has also been discussing the proposed conference, notably during a visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month.
Abbas is due to meet Bush next week in Washington.
Last week Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said details of the event were being worked out and that it would give a second wind to the Annapolis process.Unlike the European Union and the United States, Russia has maintained contacts with the Hamas Palestinian radical organisation, viewed as a terrorist group by the West. Putin, who was due back in Moscow on Friday after visiting Libya, is to hand over to president-elect Dmitry Medvedev on May 7. In an interview with the Russian daily Kommersant, the Palestinian president's envoy to Moscow, Faed Moustafa, said he was sure Medvedev would continue supporting the Palestinians, also through contacts with Hamas. Mahmud Abbas is sure that Russia will use its contacts with Hamas for one purpose: to restore the unity of the Palestinian people, Moustafa said.
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
1 TIMOTHY 4:1-2
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
2 TIMOTHY 3:13
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
Polygamous-sect hearing in Texas descends into farce By MICHELLE ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer APR 18,08
SAN ANGELO, Texas - A court hearing to decide the fate of the 416 children swept up in a raid on a West Texas polygamous sect descended into farce Thursday, with hundreds of lawyers in two packed buildings shouting objections and the judge struggling to maintain order. The case — clearly one of the biggest, most convoluted child-custody hearings in U.S. history — presented an extraordinary spectacle: big-city lawyers in suits and mothers in 19th-century, pioneer-style dresses, all packed into a courtroom and a nearby auditorium connected by video.At issue was an attempt by the state of Texas to strip the parents of custody and place the children in foster homes because of evidence they were being physically and sexually abused or in imminent danger of abuse by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade Mormon splinter group suspected of forcing underage girls into marriage with older men.As many feared, the proceedings turned into something of a circus — and a painfully slow one.
By evening, only three witnesses had testified, including state child welfare investigator Angie Voss, who said women may have had children when they were minors, some as young as age 13.At least five girls who are younger than 18 are now pregnant or have children, Voss said.No decisions had been made on the fate of any of the youngsters, and the hearing was to continue Friday.
Additional details on life at the ranch began to emerge as Voss testified.She said that if one of the men fell out of favor with the FLDS, his wives and children would be reassigned to other men. The children would then identify the new man as their father. Voss said that contributed to the problem of identifying children's family links and their ages.Texas District Judge Barbara Walther struggled to keep order as she faced 100 lawyers in her 80-year-old Tom Green County courtroom and several hundred more participating over a grainy video feed from an ornate City Hall auditorium two blocks away.The hearing disintegrated quickly into a barrage of shouted objections and attempts to file motions, with lawyers for the children objecting to objections made by the parents' attorneys. When the judge sustained an objection to the prolonged questioning of the state trooper, the lawyers cheered.Upon another objection about the proper admission of medical records of the children, the judge threw up her hands.I assume most of you want to make the same objection. Can I have a universal, Yes, Judge? she said.In both buildings, the hundreds of lawyers stood and responded in unison: Yes, Judge.But she added to the chaos as well.Walther refused to put medical records and other evidence in electronic form, which could be e-mailed among the lawyers, because it contained personal information. A courier had to run from the courthouse to the auditorium delivering one document at a time.
We're going to handle this the best we can, one client at a time, Walther said.Little evidence had been admitted; the first attempt resulted in an hourlong recess while all the lawyers examined it. The rest of the morning was spent in arguments about whether to admit the medical records of three girls, two 17-year-olds and one 18-year-old.Department of Public Safety Sgt. Danny Crawford testified to DPS's discovery of a church bishop's records taken from a safe at the ranch that listed about 38 families, some of them polygamous and some that included wives 16 or 17 years old. But under repeated cross-examination, Crawford acknowledged the records contained no evidence of sexual abuse. The sect came to West Texas in 2003, relocating some members from the church's traditional home along the Utah-Arizona state line. Its prophet and spiritual leader, Warren Jeffs, is in prison for forcing an underage girl into marriage in Utah. Voss testified that through their interviews with girls at the ranch, investigators believed there was a pattern of underage girls given in marriage to older men. Voss said that if the prophet told the girl to marry or to lie the girl would do as instructed. If the prophet told her to lie she would because the prophet received all his messages from the Heavenly Father, Voss said. State officials asked the judge for permission to conduct genetic testing on the children and adults because of difficulty sorting out the sect's tangled family relationships and matching youngsters with their parents. The judge did not immediately rule. Amid the shouting and chaos among the lawyers, who came from around Texas to represent the children and parents free of charge, dozens of mothers sat timidly in their long cotton dresses, long underwear even in the spring heat, and braided upswept hair. In the satellite courtroom, hundreds of people strained to see and hear a large projector set up on the auditorium's stage. But the feed was blurry and barely audible.
I'm not in a position to advocate for anything, complained Susan Hays, the appointed attorney for a 2-year-old sect member. Outside, where TV satellite trucks lined the street in front of the courthouse's columned facade, a man who said he was an FLDS father waved a photo of himself surrounded by his five children, ranging from a baby to a child of about 9. Look, look, look, the father said. These children are all smiling, we're happy.Walther signed an emergency order nearly two weeks ago giving the state custody of the children after a 16-year-old girl called an abuse hot line claiming her husband, a 50-year-old member of the sect, beat and raped her. The girl has yet to be identified. Authorities raided their compound April 3 in the nearby town of Eldorado — a 1,700-acre ranch with a blindingly white limestone temple and log cabin-style houses — and began collecting documents and disk drives that might provide evidence of underage girls being married to adults.
The children, who are being kept in a domed coliseum in San Angelo, range in age from 6 months to 17 years. Roughly 100 of them are under 4. FLDS members deny children were abused and say the state is persecuting them for their faith. The judge must weigh the allegations of abuse and also decide whether it is in the children's best interest to be placed into mainstream society after they have been told all their lives that the outside world is hostile and immoral. If the judge gives the state permanent custody of the children, the Texas child services agency will face the enormous task of finding suitable homes. It will also have to decipher brother-sister relationships so that it can try to preserve them. Over the past two weeks, the agency has relied on volunteers to help feed the children, do their laundry and provide crafts and games for them. Gov. Rick Perry would not say how much the case is costing the state, but said: Does the state of Texas have the resources? Absolutely we do.Associated Press writer Jennifer Dobner in San Angelo, Angela K. Brown in Fort Worth, and Linda Stewart Ball in Grapevine, Texas, contributed to this report.