July 29, 2021

Pope condemns persecution of Christians, other religions/ HM Queen Elizabeth II

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Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 1.20.47 PMFrom Newsmax

Pope Francis roundly condemned jihadist violence and the “brutal persecution” of religious minorities this year in a Christmas message to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and millions of others.

Speaking to a packed crowd outside Saint Peter’s Basilica, the popular Argentine pontiff also made a strong call to end violence wrought against children amid “indifference and tears.”

His second traditional “urbi et orbi” message (to the city and to the world) comes at the close of a year plagued by war and violent religious fundamentalism, notably in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and most recently against school-children in Pakistan.

“Truly there are so many tears this Christmas,” he said in the message broadcast across the world.

Without naming the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group, he said Christians in Iraq and Syria “for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict” and “together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution.”

There were “too many displaced persons, exiles and refugees, adults and elderly, from this region and the whole world.”

Killings and hostage-takings from the Middle East to Nigeria and elsewhere must stop, he said.

Visibly moved and departing from his text, the 78-year-old head of the Roman Catholic church noted “the children massacred by bombardments, including where the son of God was born” — in the Holy Land — and their “powerless silence that cries under the sword.

Denouncing “indifference”, he explicitly condemned abortion, deploring the children “killed before seeing the light”.

“May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers.”

“May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week”, he added, referring to the 149 people, including 133 school-children, killed in Peshawar by the Taliban.

In Baghdad, where an estimated 150,000 Iraqi Christians have fled jihadist violence since June, Christmas celebrations were dampened by events.

“We do not have any feelings of joy,” said Rayan Dania Sabri at Baghdad’s Church of the Ascension. “How can we be joyful when there are thousands still living in camps and schools in poor conditions?”

Turning to trouble-spots elsewhere across the globe, the softly-spoken Francis urged Ukrainians also to “overcome tensions, conquer hatred and violence and set out on a new journey of fraternity and reconciliation”.

He called for peace in “the whole Middle East” and continued efforts towards “dialogue” between Israelis and Palestinians.

Peace too was essential in Africa, particularly in Nigeria “where more blood is being shed”, as well as in Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He noted the victims of Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and thanked those who were “courageously” assisting the sick.

** [see below] Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II also was expected to pay tribute to the “selflessness” of medical staff and aid workers fighting the Ebola epidemic in her own annual Christmas Day broadcast.

In Sierra Leone, all public Christmas festivities were cancelled as a result of the Ebola crisis, with soldiers deployed over the holiday season to prevent spontaneous street celebrations, officials said.

In his Christmas message, which was fairly brief, the pontiff traditionally calls for remedies to the world’s woes.

Francis however has put an end to a longstanding tradition of popes wishing a happy Christmas in dozens of languages.

At a Christmas Eve mass, he urged Roman Catholics to have greater empathy towards family and friends, saying the world needs “tenderness” and “warmth”.

In Syria, Christians in the war-torn city of Homs were enjoying their first Christmas in three years in the Hamidiyeh neighbourhood, with a brightly coloured tree and a manger made from rubble set up in the middle of the ruins.

Francis sent a video message to South Koreans recalling his trip to the country in August in which he said: “The great celebration in honour of the (Catholic) martyrs (in the 18th and 19th centuries in Korea), and the encounters with young people remain fresh in my memory.”

Cubans prepared to celebrate Christmas, a resurgent holiday banned for 38 years by the communist government, with an early gift from US President Barack Obama: a historic rapprochement.

In Bethlehem on Christmas Eve hectic preparations preceded celebrations on the West Bank town’s biggest night of the year, culminating in midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity built over the spot where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.

Scouts playing bagpipes and drums marched to the church in a procession led by Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the top Catholic cleric in the Holy Land.

In his homily, Twal called for “peace in Jerusalem”, where violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians rocked the city for months, and “equality and mutual respect” among all faiths.

He also asked for the rebuilding of Gaza, which was ravaged this summer during a 50-day war between Hamas and Israel in which more than 2,200 people died.

For more on this story go to: http://www.Newsmax.com/Headline/Christmas-world/2014/12/25/id/614933/#ixzz3N7jlo7rx

 

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** HM Queen Elizabeth II Christmas Broadcast 2014
In the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral is a sculpture of a man and a woman reaching out to embrace each other. The sculptor was inspired by the story of a woman who crossed Europe on foot after the war to find her husband. Casts of the same sculpture can be found in Belfast and Berlin, and it is simply called Reconciliation.
Reconciliation is the peaceful end to conflict, and we were reminded of this in August when countries on both sides of the First World War came together to remember in peace. The ceramic poppies at the Tower of London drew millions, and the only possible reaction to seeing them and walking among them was silence. For every poppy a life; and a reminder of the grief of loved ones left behind.No-one who fought in that war is still alive, but we remember their sacrifice and indeed the sacrifice of all those in the armed forces who serve and protect us today.In 1914, many people thought the war would be over by Christmas, but sadly by then the trenches were dug and the future shape of the war in Europe was set. But, as we know, something remarkable did happen that Christmas, exactly a hundred years ago today. Without any instruction or command, the shooting stopped and German and British soldiers met in No Man’s Land. Photographs were taken and gifts exchanged. It was a Christmas truce.Truces are not a new idea. In the ancient world a truce was declared for the duration of the Olympic Games and wars and battles were put on hold. Sport has a wonderful way of bringing together people and nations, as we saw this year in Glasgow when over seventy countries took part in the Commonwealth Games. It is no accident that they are known as the Friendly Games. As well as promoting dialogue between nations, the Commonwealth Games pioneered the inclusion of para-sports within each day’s events. As with the Invictus Games that followed, the courage, determination and talent of the athletes captured our imagination as well as breaking down divisions.The benefits of reconciliation were clear to see when I visited Belfast in June. While my tour of the set of Game of Thrones may have gained most attention, my visit to the Crumlin Road Gaol will remain vividly in my mind. What was once a prison during the troubles is now a place of hope and fresh purpose; a reminder of what is possible when people reach out to one another, rather like the couple in the sculpture.

Of course, reconciliation takes different forms. In Scotland after the referendum many felt great disappointment, while others felt great relief; and bridging these differences will take time. Bringing reconciliation to war or emergency zones is an even harder task, and I have been deeply touched this year by the selflessness of aid workers and medical volunteers who have gone abroad to help victims of conflict or of diseases like Ebola, often at great personal risk.

For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.

Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord. But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women.

On that chilly Christmas Eve in 1914 many of the German forces sang “Silent Night”, its haunting melody inching across the line. That carol is still much-loved today, a legacy of the Christmas truce, and a reminder to us all that even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found.

A very happy Christmas to you all.

Related story:

Pope Francis attacks ‘diseases’ of Vatican in Curia address

By Lucy Pawle and Susannah Cullinane, CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Pope Francis addressed the Vatican bureaucracy — or Curia — on Monday

He launched a blistering attack on the “illnesses” within its members

Francis warned against “vainglory,” superiority and loss of compassion

He referred to the diseases of excessive planning and of “the terrorism of gossip”

(CNN) — Pope Francis has unleashed a blistering critique of the Vatican bureaucracy — or Curia — criticizing its “illnesses” ranging from the “disease of feeling immortal” to vainglory and excessive planning.

In his annual Christmas address to the Curia at the Vatican Monday, the Pontiff warned that “a church that doesn’t try to improve is like a sick body.”

Francis said suggested that it would be helpful to the Vatican bureaucrats to have a catalog of their illnesses beginning with “this disease of feeling immortal or indispensable.”

The “pathology of power,” he said, could lead to people believing “they are superior to others and not here for the service to others.”

Dear brothers let us be aware and guard against the terrorism of gossip.

Pope Francis

Francis warned against the disease of loss of compassion, which he said afflicted “those who have a heart of stone.”

“Those who lose their inner serenity, their vivacity and audacity, to hide behind their papers, becoming like procedural machines rather than men of God. This is dangerous to lose human sensitivity, so necessary in order to cry with those who cry and enjoy with those who enjoy,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis referred to the diseases of “excessive planning and functionalism” and of “bad coordination,” which he said could occur when members did not collaborate with each other. There was also the risk of succumbing to spiritual Alzheimer’s disease and “forgetting the story of salvation,” he said, warning that sufferers “lost memory of their encounter with God.”

The Pope described the diseases of rivalry and vainglory, and rebuked those who try to court their superiors “inspired by their own egotism.”

The disease of gossip, Francis said, he had addressed before — but insufficiently.

The Pope’s role in the Cuba breakthrough Pope: Dogs can go to heaven Pope Francis pledges to fight slavery

“This is a serious disease that begins simply when people chatter, and it takes over the person, turning the person as a Satan, and in so many cases people are speaking ill about their own colleagues and brothers and sisters. These people haven’t got the courage to speak directly, and they speak about others behind their backs,” he said. “Dear brothers, let us be aware and guard against the terrorism of gossip.”

Pope Francis also appeared to speak to the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, referring to it as the “disease of a closeness.”

“This disease also begins from good intentions, but with the passing of time enslaves its members, becoming a cancer which threatens the harmony of the body and causes a lot of evil and scandal, especially towards our small brothers and sisters,” Francis said.

Finally, Francis warned against the disease of the mundane — “of the exhibitionism when the apostle transforms his service in power.”

“This is a disease of people who seek tirelessly to multiply power only aimed at calumny, and to defame and discredit others,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded: “Dear brothers, such diseases and such temptations are a naturally a danger for each Christian and for each Curia. For each community, for any ecclesiastical movement. They can damage both individually and the community. We have to say that only the Holy Spirit and the soul of Christ, only he can protect us from the disease.

“We have to cure ourselves of these. Let us try to grow together and close to Christ.”

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that aired earlier this month, veteran Vatican watcher Marco Politi said Pope Francis had been encountering growing opposition within his own church.

This was mainly due to Francis’ efforts at reform since becoming Pope in March 2013, Politi said.

“Within the Church, there is a tough group of conservative bishops and priests and cardinals, and also very traditionalist bishops and cardinals who are practically against the Pope, who are working against the Pope,” he said. “They don’t like what he wanted to do with the synod about family, to give new possibilities to remarried and divorced people to get the communion, or to have a new look on the homosexual union.”

For more on this story and video go to: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/22/world/pope-francis-curia/index.html

 

 

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