A Rabbi Discusses the True Meaning of Hanukkah
Syrian Rebels Retake Aramaic-speaking Christian Village of Maloula-and kidnap Nuns
European Parliament hears concerns about Christians in Middle East
Published 28 November 2013 | Michael Trimmer, Christian Today
The European Parliament's subcommittee on human rights this week discussed the increasingly precarious situation of the Christian minority that exists throughout the Middle East.
MEPs discussed recent reports by the World Watch Monitor news service detailing anti-Christian violence in the region, particularly in Iraq. For example, on September 22, a suicide bomb went off outside the home of Christian politician Emad Youhanna in Rafigayn, part of the Kirkuk province, injuring 19 people, including three of Youhanna's children.
Several bomb attacks have also taken place in the northern city of Erbil, for which Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. "Church leaders in Baghdad say that there are attacks on Christians every two or three days," World Watch Monitor said. The organisation said Christians were not only worried about attacks from terrorists, but that there were institutional concerns too.
"A group of Christian young people said that policemen told them that they 'should not be in Iraq because it is Muslim territory'," the report said. "[T]he local Kurdish government has discussed ways to monitor Christian activities and accused many English teachers from the West of being Christian missionaries. It is now much harder for Westerners to receive work permits in the country." Canon Andrew White, the pastor of an Anglican Church in Baghdad said that in the last 10 years since Saddam Hussein was toppled, over 1,000 members of his congregation had been killed, 58 of these within a single day. To put this trend in a broader context, White said that in the last decade Iraq's Christian population had shrunk from 1.5 million to around 200,000. A second report highlighted the situation for Christians in places like Egypt since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and following the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.
In Egypt, the situation is concerning, but many are more hopeful after the removal of President Mohammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood led government. Bishop Angaelos, a general bishop of the UK branch of the Coptic Church, talks in one of the documents about how in the wake of the Arab Spring many Christians are beginning to view themselves as part of a broader Egyptian community, rather than just a group unto themselves.
"It was unheard of before two years ago that Egyptian flags would be flying on the streets because people felt that they were not really part of a single nation state, so they reverted to their own religion, whether Christian or Muslim. This is a much better situation than life under Morsi," he said. The paper points out that one Muslim Brotherhood leader said he felt closer to an Indonesian Muslim than a Coptic Christian because of the concept of the nation of Islam, the Ummah. Present at the European Parliament discussions were Marino Busdaschin, Secretary General of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana, Archdeacon of the Assyrian Church of the East, and Kamel Zozo, Chairman of the Organisation for Human Rights for the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. In its position as a committee within the European Parliament, the subcommittee on human rights can advise the EP on action to take with regard to foreign policy that requires legislation. During the debate, various speakers emphasised that more legislative measures should be taken to protect Iraq's minorities and for helping the refugees in Kurdistan. It was also said that the EU could contribute financially and with more technical assistance. "In Iraq, both religious and ethnic minorities continue to face risks to life, cultural traditions and economic survival in the country," said MEP Barbara Lochbihler, chair of the subcommittee on human rights. "To ease that situation, the EU needs to ensure that financial allocations to Iraq also reach those that are most vulnerable, including the refugees in Kurdistan."
Soda, Pop, Coke-Dialects in America
an interesting video on how language works-with dialects! Modern Assyrian Aramaic has many dialects as well!
Pope Francis Attacks Capitalism, Calls for State Control
By William Bigelow, Brietbart.com 27 November 2013
In a far-ranging 50,000 word statement released by Pope Francis on Tuesday, he illustrated that he is sympathetic to the tenets of liberation theology and hostile to capitalism.
Liberation theology, which is a recent movement that essentially began at the second Latin American Bishops' Conference in Colombia in 1968, believes that social systems that contribute to the economic state of the poor should be overthrown. At that conference, the teachings of Jesus Christ were combined with those of Karl Marx to call for violent revolution to overthrow capitalism. The text that emerged that was later used as inspiration was A Theology of Liberation, written in 1971, by Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian priest and theologian.
In September 2013, Pope Francis held a meeting with Gutiérrez, and L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semi-official newspaper, published an essay describing it on Sept. 3. The essay asserted that because Francis is the first pope from Latin America, liberation theology can no longer "remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe." Michael Lee, associate professor of theology at Fordham University in New York, said that the experience Francis had hailing from South America "is present in the person of Francis and in the Vatican now in a way that it never has been before. What only makes sense is, then, a reopening of the door to this theology that emerged from that context and spoke so powerfully to it, and continues to do so."
Before the advent of liberation theology, Catholicism hated socialism and communism, regarding them as "godless." Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) wrote an entire encyclical condemning socialism.
But now Pope Francis seems to be embracing a condemnation of capitalism instead, and an embracing of socialistic principles. Here are some statements from his text on Tuesday: Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:
… some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born..
So Francis believes that capitalism, which defends the right to a free market system, is to be discarded, while the right of states, "charged with vigilance for the common good," to exercise control over the economic status of the people, is laudable. Lenin would not be disappointed.
Obama Closes Vatican Embassy
Barbara Hollingsworth CNSNews.com – The U.S. State Department is blaming its decision to close the U.S. embassy to the Vatican on the Benghazi terrorist attack, saying that the embassy is too much of a security risk for U.S. diplomats. "Security is our top priority in making this move," the State Department said in a statement sent to CNSNews.com by department spokesperson Nicole Thompson. "The State Department is working to implement all of the independent Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB) recommendations, to include a renewed call for U.S. government facilities to be collocated when they are in the same metropolitan area," said the statement. Vatican City is not legally a part of Rome or Italy, but is a separate sovereign state. As a secondary reason for closing the U.S. embassy at the Vatican the State Department cited the need of the U.S. government to save money. "This move will also save the U.S. government money," said the department's statement. "The Embassy to the Holy See will move into unused space on the U.S. government compound in Rome, eliminating the lease costs being paid for its current location and maximizing use of space in a building that we own. It will also reduce operating costs, as our Embassy to the Holy See will be able to share guard and other services. We reject any suggestion that this decision, made for security and administrative reasons, constitutes a downgrading of our relations with the Holy See." Former U.S. Ambassador to Vatican Jim Nicholson does not see it that way. He blasted the State Department's move, saying he has "zero doubt" that the 165 counties with whom the Vatican maintains diplomatic ties will view it as "a reflection of the diminished role the State Department and this administration have for this very important diplomatic post." "If you diminish the stature, you diminish the influence," Nicholoson, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican for four years, told CNSNews.com."And the stature of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See is critical for its moral suasion, particularly for a country like ours that prides itself on protecting civil rights, stopping human trafficking, fighting for religious freedom and feeding the world. If you diminish that influence, you seriously jeopardize those goals," he added. Nicholson also pointed out that the existing embassy in the Vatican already has "state-of-the-art security" and that Rome is not considered a high-risk diplomatic assignment. The former ambassador also challenged State Dept. reassurances that "the United States continues to regard the Holy See as a key bilateral partner in promoting religious freedom, protecting religious minorities, advancing humanitarian causes, and mitigating conflicts around the world. We look forward to continuing our high levels of engagement with the Holy See." "It's one thing to say it, but it's contradictory [if you don't] show it," Nicholson said. In an interview with Fox News "Spirited Debate" host Lauren Green Monday, Nicholson called the planned move a "rebuke" of the close relationship the U.S. has enjoyed with the Vatican and an "insult" to American Catholics. - See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/state-dept-blames-closing-us-embassy-vatican-benghazi-and-need-us#sthash.2JVSUXkg.dpuf
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(DAMASCUS, Syria) — Pope Francis called Wednesday for prayers for 12 Orthodox nuns reportedly taken by force from their convent in Syria by rebels. Religious officials in the region have said the women were abducted, but a Syrian opposition activist said they were merely taken away for their own safety. Francis didn't call for their release but appealed for prayers from the crowd at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square. "I invite everyone to pray for the sisters of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Santa Takla in Maaloula, Syria, who were taken by force by armed men two days ago," he said. "Let us continue to pray and to work together for peace."
We should continue to pray for the Aramaic Christians of Maloula, Syria-and join the pope in doing so-but he should have called for their release when he first made a statement and asked for prayer. Prayer has power-but we must combine prayer with action-such as a call for repentance and good works-these terrorists must release these women of God NOW! http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-boland/pope-francis-appeals-release-nuns-kidnapped-syrian-rebels
Many Catholics work hard on pro-life causes. Then the pope-the supposed vicar of Christ-speaks against them. The Pope wants to be Mr. Popular-but Jesus said-the world will hate you as it has hated me-the Bible says friendship with the world is enmity with God. The Pope wants the world's love-but Jesus embraced rejection and shame by the world-Jesus said "Woe unto you when men speak well of you-for so they spoke of the false prophets"-I think Christians should work together but when our leaders fail us-we have to rely upon Christ alone. Here is a Catholics take on the renegade pope: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/12/04/pope-francis-is-catholic-churchs-obama-god-help-us/?intcmp=trending
We should pray for him-but follow Jesus the Son of God and his holy word and not any man-no matter who he claims to be. I wonder if there is a procedure in Canon Law for removing a pope when he begins to wound the body of Christ. Many popes were godly men-but there have been bad popes in the past-and I feel, sadly, that we have the same problem now. John Paul was and Benedict as well were both good leaders. We must trust in Jesus Christ and in him alone!
Pope Francis is the Catholic Church's Obama-God help us! By Adam Shaw
Pope Francis is undergoing a popularity surge comparable to the way Barack Obama was greeted by the world in 2008. And just as President Obama has been a disappointment for America, Pope Francis will prove a disaster for the Catholic Church.
My fellow Catholics should be suspicious when bastions of anti-Catholicism in the left-wing media are in love with him.
Much is being made of his 'compassion' and 'humility,' but kissing babies and hugging the sick is nothing new. Every pope in recent memory has done the same, yet only now are the media paying attention. Benedict XVI and John Paul II refused to kowtow to the liberal agenda, and so such displays of tenderness were under-covered.
Francis is beating a retreat for the Catholic Church, and making sure its controversial doctrines are whispered, not yelled – no wonder the New York Times is in love.
But Francis is beating a retreat for the Catholic Church, and making sure its controversial doctrines are whispered, not yelled – no wonder the New York Times is in love.
Just like President Obama loved apologizing for America, Pope Francis likes to apologize for the Catholic Church, thinking that the Church is at its best when it is passive and not offending anyone's sensibilities.
In his interviews with those in the left-wing media he seeks to impress, Francis has said that the Church needs to stop being 'obsessed' with abortion and gay marriage, and instead of seeking to convert people, "we need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us."
This softly-softly approach of not making a fuss has been tried before, and failed. The Second Vatican Council of the 1960's aimed to "open the windows" of the Church to the modern world by doing just this.
The result was the Catholic version of New Coke. Across the West where the effects were felt, seminaries and convents emptied, church attendance plummeted, and adherence to Church doctrine diminished.
John Paul II and Benedict XVI worked hard to turn this trend around, but now Pope Francis wants the bad old days to resume.
Proof of this is Francis' aforementioned statement of the Church being obsessed with controversial issues and the need to rebalance by talking about it less.
That Francis didn't see that this would be translated into headlines of "Pope tells Catholics to shut up about things that offend Sandra Fluke" by every left-wing media outlet shows a terrifying naivety.
Nor do his comments reflect reality.
For years, the majority of priests didn't dare cover controversial topics in their homilies in fear of getting angry letters from pick-and-choose Catholics outraged that their pastor dared to say something out of line with the Democratic Party.
Most parishioners therefore haven't heard the Church's argument on controversial topics. Consequently, usage of contraception is only slightly lower in Catholics than in the general population, and support of gay marriage is actually higher in Catholics than the general population. Perhaps talking about it even less isn't the answer?
In trying to please the media and the modern world, Francis mistakes their glee for respect. Just like Obama thought he'd won over Putin by promising a reset, Francis thinks by talking vacuously about the poor, he will be respected. And it is vacuous -- the pontiff recently asked why it's news that the stock market drops but not when an old person dies. When your leader is asking, "Why isn't the newspaper a laundry list of obituaries?" you know you elected the wrong guy.
What effect is this having? For all we're being told about how 'disenfranchised' Catholics are being brought back by Francis 'reaching out,' a recent Pew Research study showed that in America, the number of people who identify as Catholic has actually decreased. Lesson: rubbing the egos of Church-hating left-wingers doesn't make more Catholics, it just makes the Church less respected.
Francis not only panders to enemies and professional grievance mongers, but also attacks his allies. Just as Obama snubs Britain and Israel, Pope Francis swipes at practicing Catholics.
So not only has he insulted, and severely damaged the work of, pro-life and pro-marriage groups with his comments, he has also gone on the attack, dismissing Catholics who attend the older rites in Latin as 'ideologizing' and being guilty of 'exploitation.' Apparently "Who am I to judge?" doesn't apply here.
On world matters, Francis' statements are embarrassing. About communism, a destructive ideology that slaughtered millions of Catholics, he said:
"Learning about it through a courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized…an aspect of the social, which I then found in the social doctrine of the Church."
Not such kind words for the free market, however. In his recent apostolic exhortation he slammed unfettered capitalism, calling it 'a new tyranny.'
Apart from the fact that there is no major nation practicing unfettered capitalism (like Obama, Francis loves attacking straw men) there is more real tyranny in socialist cesspools like Francis' home of Argentina than in places where capitalism is predominant.
In the document he rejects the free market and calls for governments to overhaul financial systems so they attack inequality. In doing so he shows himself painfully misguided on economics, failing to see that free markets have consistently lifted the poor out of poverty, while socialism merely entrenches them in it, or kills them outright.
Like Obama, Francis is unable to see the problems that are really endangering his people. Like Obama he mistakes the faithful for the enemy, the enemy for his friend, condescension for respect, socialism for justice and capitalism for tyranny.
As a Catholic, I do hope Francis' papacy is a successful one, but from his first months he seems hell-bent on a path to undo the great work of Benedict XVI and John Paul II, and to repeat critical mistakes of the past.
US reportedly frees Iranian amid secret talks, but American trio still held
When the Obama administration announced what it characterized as a breakthrough deal with Iran on its nuclear weapons program, the apparent culmination of multi-lateral talks in the works for years, supporters of three men believed held in the Islamic Republic wondered why their freedom wasn't part of the negotiation.
The State Department responded by saying talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers focused solely on the nuclear issue, leaving no room for appeals on behalf of Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson. But recent reports say the U.S.-Iran negotiations that led to the Swiss talks included the release of an Iranian nuclear scientist arrested in 2011 for trying to aid his nation's nuclear program by circumventing western sanctions.
State Department officials have maintained that the Obama administration has continued to press for the American trio's freedom, just not as part of the nuclear talks. But Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, who represents Abedini's family, said freeing an Iranian prisoner while Americans languish in Tehran was wrong.
This is betrayal," Sekulow told Fox News today. "A betrayal because not only did they not get the release of the three Americans, but they said they are working on this 'on the margins.' Our citizens are on the margins and then we are releasing an Iranian convicted on working on the nuclear issue."
Atarodi was released in April, according to the report. Atarodi is believed to be a vital player in Iran's missile and nuclear programs, according to Israeli intelligence analyst, Ronen Solomon. Atarodi has published over 30 technical articles relating to micro-electric engineering and has even won awards for his research in this arena.
Atarodi was first arrested in California in 2011 on charges that he allegedly attempted to purchase dual-use technology that could be used for Iran's nuclear program, but that was in violation of sanctions against Iran.
"These claims are untrue," an Obama administration official told Fox News without elaborating when asked about the Times of Israel report saying the scientist had been released. It was not clear if the official was denying Mojtaba Atarodi was released or simply disputing the context.
Officials from the U.S. and Iran have been held clandestine meetings for years in Oman, according to Solomon, who has been tracking these meetings. Over the last three years, Iran released three American hikers who were nabbed when they apparently strayed across the Iraq-Iran border, and the U.S. reciprocated by releasing three Iranians.
But the reported release of Atarodi came after those exchanges, and seems more closely aligned to the nuclear talks, if only based on the timeline. Sekulow said it should have been easy for the U.S. to insist on the release of the three Americans, including Levinson, who was last seen in 2007.
"I think it's a dire and desperate situation," Sekulow said. "Our government is not taking the real human rights issues here seriously."
Abedini, an Iranian-born American citizen who converted to Christianity was arrested last year while in Iran visiting family and drawing plans to develop a secular orphanage, according to his attorneys. He was later sentenced to eight years in prison, and his family in Boise, Idaho, fears he will not make it out of prison alive.
Hekmati, 31, of Flint, Mich., was visiting his grandmother in 2011 when he was charged with espionage and sentenced to death in 2012. In September, a letter was leaked out of the prison where Hekmati is being held, stating that he was pressured into recording an admission of guilt.
Levinson, a 65-year-old former FBI agent, was last seen in March of 2007, on Kish Island in Iran. He was stationed in the United Arab Emirates and was then called to Kish for a meeting. This week, Levinson became the longest-held hostage in U.S. history, according to his family. Three years ago, the family received a hostage video in which a weak Levinson appears pleading for the White House to call for his release.
In September, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani denied any knowledge of Levinson's whereabouts.
U.S. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said the Obama administration is working to win the release of the three Americans, even if it was not a condition of the nuclear deal.
"The P5+1 talks focused exclusively on nuclear issues, but we have raised—repeatedly raised—his case and the cases of other detained American citizens including Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini in our bilateral discussions with Iran, including President Obama's phone call with President Rouhani in September, so as recently as then, and we will continue to do so," Psaki said.
I am convinced that Obama is a homosexual Islamo-Marxist, and will come out as such, just as he came out for same-sex marriage. Some time before the end of his term in office, he will admit he is a Muslim. He must be a Muslim. Why would he spend so much energy furthering the interests of a religion not his own? In Iran and Egypt he supported the radical Muslims and worked against moderates, Christians and those who are more secular. Why does he do this? There is some evidence that Obama is "gay" such as how his "body slave," Reggie Love was recently "outed." But whether or not Obama is "gay," be belongs to the homosexual political movement. I am inclined to tolerate homosexuality (as in live and let live) but I am opposed to the homosexual political movement, which seeks government power to enforce their beliefs of sexual morality and punish and coerce those who dissent. You could also say Obama is an "anti-Christian, anti-America homosexual Islamo-Marxist." Obama has become a danger to the Republic and the Constitution and it is time for people to grow a pair and oppose him for the sake of freedom and democracy. His approval ratings are in the 30s now-so why are people so scared of him? He is now unpopular.
High court ends Liberty University lawsuit over ObamaCare
Published December 02, 2013
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to ObamaCare brought by a Virginia-based Christian university, ending for now one of the biggest remaining legal fights against the health care law. The justices, in turning away the lawsuit from Liberty University and leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling dismissing it, did not comment on their decision. The decision comes less than a week after the high court agreed to hear a separate challenge from Hobby Lobby and one other company to the law's so-called contraception mandate -- the requirement on most employers to provide access to contraceptive coverage. But Liberty University's case was more expansive. The university had mounted a major challenge to the law, going after the contraception mandate but also the requirement on employers to provide coverage. Liberty made several arguments in challenging the portion of the health care law that requires most employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay a fine. The 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Richmond, Va., rejected those claims. With the high court's decision, that ruling remains in place.
THINK ABOUT THIS-if you can no longer run your privately own business according to your sincerely held religious beliefs-but have to violate your conscience because of the dictates of the state-then YOU NO LONGER LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY!
The Supreme Court's decision comes more than a year after it had ordered the federal appeals court to reconsider Liberty University's claims that the law violates the school's religious freedoms.
The courts are continuing to wade through numerous challenges to the Affordable Care Act, despite the major ruling in June 2012 that upheld the bulk of the law by ruling the individual mandate -- the requirement on individuals to buy health insurance -- valid.
But the issue of the contraception mandate will come before the Supreme Court, perhaps as early as March. The court last week said it would hear the challenge from Hobby Lobby and Pennsylvania company Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.
The court is set to weigh in on the dispute over whether businesses can use religious objections to avoid a requirement in the law to cover birth control for employees.
I am convinced that Obama is a homosexual Islamo-Marxist, and will come out as such, just as he came out for same-sex marriage. Some time before the end of his term in office, he will admit he is a Muslim. He must be a Muslim. Why would he spend so much energy furthering the interests of a religion not his own? In Iran and Egypt he supported the radical Muslims and worked against moderates, Christians and those who are more secular. Why does he do this? There is some evidence that Obama is "gay" such as how his "body slave," Reggie Love was recently "outed." But whether or not Obama is "gay," be belongs to the homosexual political movement. I am inclined to tolerate homosexuality (as in live and let live) but I am opposed to the homosexual political movement, which seeks government power to enforce their beliefs of sexual morality and punish and coerce those who dissent. You could also say Obama is an "anti-Christian, anti-America homosexual Islamo-Marxist." Obama has become a danger to the Republic and the Constitution and it is time for people to grow a pair and oppose him for the sake of freedom and democracy. His approval ratings are in the 30s for God's sake!