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Paolo Dall’Oglio reported killed by Islamic rebels in Syria

Thursday, 15 August 2013 14:18

The Reuters news agency, and several other agencies are reporting, though not the Holy See as yet, that Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria killed Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, 59, who was kidnapped on 29 July.

Pope Francis mentioned his name at Mass on the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola on 31 July.
For the past 30 thirty years Father Dall’Oglio has been leading a religious and cultural life at the Monastery of Saint Moses (Deir Mar Musa).

The Monastery and its community was known to be an interfaith center devoted to Muslim-Christian friendship. Rebuilding this 6th century but abandoned monastery was Father’s and his small community’s attempt at preserving Syrian Christian establishments. One of the stunning pieces of Syrian religious patrimony Dall’Oglio preserved was an 11th century fresco of the Last Judgment.

Father Dall’Oglio was ordained as a Syrian Catholic priest; he spoke Arabic and studied Islamic theology and philosophy. His doctoral studies and writing at the Gregorian University concentrated on the virtue of hope in Islam.

Father was expelled from Syria in 2012, though he would sneak back into the country from time-to-time.

More recently his voice has been heard in calling for the deposition of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some Islamist rebel groups.

Eternal memory.

Source: http://communio.stblogs.org/index.php/2013/08/paolo-dalloglio-reported-killed-by-islamic-rebels-in-syria/

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – August 15, 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on August 15
4:00 - If Aristotle's Kid Had an iPod
Parenting is hard . . . but it's not impossible. As a parent, you know that raising children presents greater questions every day. Aristotle has the answers . . . you just have to know how to find them. Conor Gallagher masterfully weaves Aristotle's ancient philosophy, scientific studies, pop culture, and parenting tales together making If Aristotle's Kid Had an iPod a funny, rich, and informative read, and an indispensable guide for any parent who wants to pass on the secrets of a happy life to their kid.

5:00 - Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith
Six years ago our friends Fr. John McCloskey and Russell Shaw wrote Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith. Based on the great success and influence that Father McCloskey has had in helping instruct many converts to Catholicism, especially numerous high profile DC figures, this book is a powerful combination of the methods, theology, and theories that McCloskey uses in his evangelization efforts. In addition to his compelling insights on how to teach or share the faith in a winning, inspiring way, this work includes the contributions of several dozen converts of Fr. McCloskey who give their own moving testimonies of why they converted to Catholicism, and how that life-changing journey happened for each of them. We revisit this inspirational book today with Fr. McCloskey.

Bookshops of the Egyptian Bible Society Burnt and Destroyed

Posted on

Bible Society of Egypt, Burnt Bible

Dr. Ramez Atallah, director of the Bible Society of Egypt, writes today (August 14, 2013):
Dear friends,

I have just received the sad news of the complete burning and destruction (by Muslim fundamentalists) of our Bible Society’s bookshops in Assiut & Minia (the largest cities in Southern Egypt). These were both very beautiful, fully equipped bookshops. Fortunately we were closed today, fearing such an attack, so none of our staff were injured. The attackers demolished the metal doors protecting the bookshops, broke the store windows behind them and set the bookshops on fire. They did the same to many stores on those streets as well as demolishing many parked cars.

Similar incidents are taking place across the nation and to date 15 churches and 3 Christian schools have been attacked and some set on fire.

Dispersal of Sit-ins

Most of you know by now that the Egyptian police, supported by the army, have dispersed the demonstrators from one of the big sit-ins of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) protesters and are working now to evacuate the other, larger one.

To understand why most residents of Cairo feel that these sit-ins should not continue, you should imagine how long residents of New York – or your own city – would tolerate the following scenario:-

Imagine more than 10,000 protestors camped for six weeks in Times Square in New York. No traffic can go through the square and, as a result, all other traffic in the area becomes congested, especially at rush hour. People and businesses in the surrounding buildings have their lives completely disrupted – they can hardly get access to their shops or homes and cannot stand the stench of 10,000 people in the middle of summer using the street and sidewalks as housing. In addition these strangers have set up their own shops and facilities in the middle of the streets. So it is a very scary scene. Add to this the non-stop onslaught of speeches blaring from loudspeakers all day long, and those living in Times Square will neither rest nor sleep as long as the sit-in continues!

In retaliation for the government dispersing the sit-ins, this morning Muslim Brotherhood leaders called for nation-wide protests. In response to these calls, Muslim fundamentalists all over Egypt have gone on a rampage of violence; some of it aimed at Christian targets, but also targeting government institutions, police stations and private property especially parked cars.

One of the reasons why the government has been so reticent in dispersing the sit-ins was precisely because of the MB’s many threats of retaliation. So most Egyptians expected the violence. Nevertheless, it is heartbreaking to watch on TV this bloodshed between fellow-Egyptians unfolding before our eyes.

Trusting God for the future

It is important to underline that — while some Christian properties have been the victim of this violence — they are by no means the only ones targeted. This is an attack against the State by a violent minority in an attempt to destabilize the Nation.
 Read the rest of the letter here: http://willemjdewit.com/2013/08/14/bookshops-egyptian-bible-society-burnt-destroyed/
Bible Society of Egypt, bookshop, burnt 

Sincerely in Christ,
Ramez Atallah, Bible Society of Egypt, signature
Ramez Atallah
General Director
The Bible Society of Egypt

Willem J. de Wit, Willem-Jan de Wit, wjdw, willemjdewit Dr. Willem J. de Wit is assistant professor of Biblical Studies and Systematic Theology at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt.

Gay couple seeks spousal privilege protection in Kentucky murder trial

Bobbie Joe Clary and Geneva Case
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A legal debate over whether one member of a same-sex couple has spousal privilege that would shield her from testifying against her partner is at the heart of a capital murder case in politically conservative Kentucky.

Geneva Case, 49, does not want to testify in a Louisville court against her partner, Bobbie Jo Clary, 37, who is accused of beating George Murphy, 64, to death with a hammer in 2011 and then stealing his van.

Prosecutors say Case must testify because of her value as a witness, since she heard Clary admit to the slaying and also saw blood on the interior of the victim's van after the killing.

Clary says Murphy used a hammer to sexually assault her, and she defended herself by hitting him over the head.

Clary is also charged with tampering with evidence to cover up the crime. If convicted, Clary could face the death penalty.

Under Kentucky law, a person cannot be called to testify against his or her spouse. Most states have a similar type of law.

But Kentucky is not among the 13 states that have legalized gay marriage. In 2004, it amended the state constitution to define marriage as being a union between a man and a woman.

Susan Sommer, an attorney for Lambda Legal, a national legal organization for the protection of gay rights, said she was not familiar with the details of the Kentucky case, but Lambda believes gay couples should have the same legal protections as other married people.

"Spousal privilege is one part of the tremendous bundle of protections for a committed couple that come automatically with marriage," Sommer said.

Case and Clary were joined in a civil union in 2004 in Vermont. Vermont first allowed civil unions in 2000, but did not legalize same-sex marriage until 2009.
"Kentucky's marital privilege law does not give Ms. Case the right not to testify in a murder trial," said Stacy Greive, assistant commonwealth attorney for Jefferson County. "And the reason marital privilege does not apply to Ms. Case in her relationship with the defendant is because it is our opinion and our belief that they do not have a marriage that is recognized under Kentucky law."

Read the rest here: http://news.yahoo.com/gay-couple-seeks-spousal-privilege-protection-kentucky-murder-110705290.html

Pope Francis greets Muslims and urges both Christians and Muslims to promote mutual respect.

August 11, 2013
Vatican Radio
Pope Francis on Sunday urged Christians and Muslims to promote mutual respect , especially through the education of new generations. His remarks came at the end of his Angelus address when he sent greetings to Muslims throughout the world who have just celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Listen to Susy Hodges’ report:

Text of report below:

Pope Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square about how God’s love is our greatest treasure. He said today’s gospel reading from St Luke talks to us about our desire for a meeting with Christ, calling it a key aspect of human life. All of us, the Pope said, "have this desire in our hearts, be it explicit or hidden." In St. Luke’s account of Jesus walking with his disciples towards Jerusalem, Christ reveals to them what is really important for him at that time. The Pope says Jesus’s thoughts include a distancing from earthly goods, faith in the providence of the Father and his interior vigilance while awaiting the Kingdom of God. This gospel account, he continues, teaches us that a Christian is someone who carries within him a deep desire to meet the Lord together with his brethren and his companions along the way. All this can be summed up in Jesus’ words: “for wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be too.”

Addressing the pilgrims directly, Pope Francis asked them two questions, “do you have a heart with a wish or do you have a closed heart, a sleeping heart, a heart that is anesthetized." His second question for the pilgrims was: “Where is your treasure”, what for you is the most important and precious reality that attracts your heart like a magnet?" "Is it" he asked, "God’s love which is the desire to do good to others and live for the Lord?" Pope Francis went on to describe how God’s love keeps a family united and gives meaning to our daily tasks and also helps us to face up to the big challenges. This, he declared, is the true treasure for mankind. God’s love isn’t something vague and generic, "it has a name and a face, Jesus Christ." The Pope said "God’s love gives value and beauty to every human activity" and it gives meaning to negative experiences. That’s because God’s love allows us to move beyond those experiences and not remain prisoners of evil but also be open to hope and the final destination of our pilgrimage.

Before reciting the Angelus prayer the Pope recalled today’s feast of St. Clare of Assisi who left everything to consecrate herself to Christ in poverty, following in the footsteps of St. Francis.
He said this saint gives us a beautiful witness of today’s gospel and she helps us, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, to live it out, each one according to their own vocation.

After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis departed from his prepared remarks to recall that this coming Thursday is the solemnity of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven and said on that day we will honour Her. He then said he wished to send greetings to Muslims, our brothers, throughout the world who have just finished celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan . Referring to his earlier message released to mark this event, the Pope said he hoped that Christians and Muslims will strive to "promote mutual respect, especially through the education of the new generations."

He concluded his remarks by greetings all the pilgrims and groups present and reminding them of the words which were the motto of the recent World Youth Day gathering in Rio: “Go and make disciples among all nations.”

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website

Religious family survives being lost at sea

By GREG MOORE, Associated Press | August 10, 2013 | Updated: August 11, 2013 5:28pm

Photo By Las Ultimas Noticias
Hannah Gastonguay, holding her baby Rahab, is followed by her husband Sean and the
couple's 3-year-old daughter Ardith, as they disembark in the port city of
San Antonio, Chile, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.
PHOENIX (AP) The Houston Chronicle — A northern Arizona family has survived being lost at sea for weeks after an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion.
Hannah Gastonguay and her family will fly back home Sunday after taking their two small children and her father-in-law and setting sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.
Weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile.
Their flights home were arranged by U.S. Embassy officials, Gastonguay said. The U.S. State Department declined to comment on Sunday.
The months-long journey has been "pretty exciting" and "little scary at certain points," Gastonguay told The Associated Press by telephone.
The 26-year-old mother said they wanted to go to Kiribati because "we didn't want to go anywhere big." She said they understood the island to be "one of the least developed countries in the world."
Kiribati is a group of islands just off the equator and the international date line about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The total population is just over 100,000 people of primarily Micronesian descent.
Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don't believe in "abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church," she said.
U.S. "churches aren't their own," Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.
Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being "forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don't agree with." While federal law bars public funding for abortion, state attempts to block Medicaid funding for organizations that provide the procedure have met with legal hurdles. Opponents say that funding allows those groups to perform abortions.
The Gastonguays weren't members of any church, and Hannah Gastonguay said their faith came from reading the Bible and through prayer.
"The Bible is pretty clear," she said.
The family moved in November from Ash Fork, Ariz., to San Diego, where they lived on their boat as they prepared to set sail. She said she gave birth to the couple's 8-month-old girl on the boat, which was docked in a slip at the time.
In May, Hannah, her 30-year-old husband Sean, his father Mike, and the couple's daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and baby Rahab set off. They wouldn't touch land again for 91 days, she said.
She said at first, "We were cruising."
But within a couple of weeks "when we came out there, storm, storm, storm."
The boat had taken a beating, and they decided to set course for the Marquesas Islands. Instead, they found themselves in a "twilight zone," taking more and more damage, leaving them unable to make progress.

Mystery Priest Who Showed Up at a Crash Scene Then Vanished Has Been Identified — and Here’s the Unlikely Way He Came Forward

Mystery Priest Who Showed Up at Crash Scene Then Vanished Is Identified | Rev. Patrick Dowling
Rev. Patrick Dowling (Photo Credit: Diocese of Jefferson County)
The mystery priest who recently showed up at a crash site, anointed a victim and then vanished has been identified — and he came forward by posting his identity in the comments section of a Catholic news site. The story began on Aug. 4, after Aaron Smith, 26, struck Katie Lentz, 19, in a head-on car crash. In the days that followed, the tale of a faith leader who disappeared went viral.
But now the individual, who brought calm upon the situation and who rescue workers have been hoping to find and thank, has been found. A press release provided to TheBlaze from the Diocese of Jefferson County confirmed that the Rev. Patrick Dowling, one of the priests who works with the diocese, is the individual whom they have been seeking.
While some assumed the mystery priest was an angel or a deceased Catholic saint coming back to shower goodwill upon mankind, it seems these individuals’ theories were incorrect; it was, in fact, a caring bystander and faith leader who took the time to help a young woman in crisis.
The statement, provided to TheBlaze by spokesperson Deacon Dan Joyce, head of communications for the diocese, reads (Joyce also confirmed these details with TheBlaze, noting that he has spoken with the priest about what unfolded):
The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest who assisted at the site of the Sunday morning, August 4, 2013 auto accident near Center, Mo. He is Rev. Patrick Dowling, a priest of the Jefferson City Diocese. Fr. Dowling was travelling Hwy 19 between Mass assignments that morning in northern and central Missouri.
Fr. Dowling said that he is pleased that he was able to help by performing his ministry and noted that that he was just one of many who responded to assist the victim at the accident. He and the Diocese wish to acknowledge and thank the first responders, medical team and law enforcement personnel for their efforts that morning in aid of the young woman injured in the accident.
Fr. Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., in 1982. He has served at parishes in Moberly, Monroe City, Indian Creek, Milan, Unionville and Eldon, Mo., and in the diocese’s mission parishes in Marcona and Nasca, Peru.
He is currently serving in prison ministry and in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics.
Rather than coming forward in a more ceremonial or traditional way, on Friday evening, Dowling chose to post a message in the comments section of an article on a Catholic news site — one that went widely unnoticed until this afternoon.
Posting on an article written in the National Catholic Register about the incident and the search for the mystery hero, the priest detailed what unfolded. He wrote that on his way home from a Mass — one during which he was filling in for a sick priest — he arrived at the crash scene. With authorities re-routing traffic (TheBlaze previously reported that the scene was shut down for a one-fourth of a mile radius), he waited until it was possible to get closer.

Fast-Moving Debates Delve into Questions on Islam

August 10, 2013 (Ypsilanti, MI) - Verbal fireworks erupted at one point and microphones were shut down by debate moderator, conference host and CEO of Ave Maria Communications Al Kresta this afternoon during a debate between Shadid Lewis and Robert Spencer. The two men debated the question, "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?"

Lewis, U.S.A. Regional Director of the Muslim Debate Initiative, argued that Islam indeed is a religion of peace and used quotes from the Koran to support his position. Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and author of a dozen books, began the debate by saying that since there had been so much controversy surrounding his appearance, he "decided not to show up" and instead would use direct quotes from the Koran and from Islamic scholars and other leaders to bolster his position that Islam is not a religion of peace but rather of extreme jihadist violence.

In a debate format with timed presentations, rebuttals, cross-examination and questions and answers from the audience, the two men made their cases. Spencer quoted passages from the Koran supporting violence against unbelievers, such as “If they turn away, kill them wherever you find them.” He also cited violent jihadist actions such as the Boston marathon bombing, the Woolwich attack and the 9/11 attacks. Lewis responded by saying that when there is a dispute about what Islam teaches or what the Koran says, you are to consult the Koran itself for clarification, quoting a passage which says "shall I seek a judge other than Allah?” Then he proceeded to quote passages from the Koran supporting peace, such as one which says that if [unbelievers] turn away, your job is only to deliver the message.

Al Kresta, moderating the debate, at one point distilled the discussion down to two questions for the debaters: “this goes to the heart of the debate. Two things: can non-Muslims be targeted because they are non-Muslim, and secondly, can one reject Islam in good faith?” 

In closing statements, Lewis again asserted that the violent acts of a few should not taint our view of Islam as a whole. He compared jihadist Muslims to Christians who made flawed assertions about Christian beliefs in centuries past, and said that Islam warns Muslims against blindly following religious leaders.
Roberts again responded by quoting Muslim leaders who support violent jihad and concluded, "This is an awful lot of high powered misunderstanding of Islam... Unfortunately, there are not enough moderate scholars to have any influence on the violent jihadists....When was the last time you heard of anyone reading the Bible and committing an act of violence, with copious quotes? However, there have been many recent incidences of people doing exactly this with the Koran…. We can thank God that there are Islamic scholars who disagree with this, but it’s foolish to pretend that it’s not happening."          


Thompson debates Akyol on feasibility of moderate Islam

Shadid Lewis and Mustafa Akyol debated
on behalf of Islam being a peaceful religion
August 10, 2013 (Ypsilanti, MI) - Today's debates in EMU's Grand Ballroom began with Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, and Mustafa Akyol, Turkish columnist and author who flew in from Turkey for the day, debating the question, "Does Islam Support Religious Liberty?"

Akyol, comparing Islamic-Christian differences to those between Judaism and Christianity, claimed that “Islam respects Jesus and Mary and so is closer to Christianity.” The question Akyol wanted to address was, "Can we get along?" and he claims that Islam actually recognizes Judaism and Christianity as valid monotheistic faiths.
"It is interesting that most persecution against people of other faiths has happened in the 20th century, for example the Armenian genocide. Yes, Christians have suffered under Muslims, but it was due to nationalism since the Christian Armenians had coexisted with Muslims for centuries before that." Akyol pointed out that the source of 20th century conflicts could be land, resources, or tribal, and said that we should not over-religionize these conflicts because their sources are usually not religious.
However, Akyol claims, the biggest problem in Islam today that threatens religious freedom is the ban on apostasy or conversion from Islam to any other religion. Akyol himself defended "freedom for Islam and from Islam," and said the ban on apostosy doesn’t come from the Koran but from post-Koranic literature on which much of Sharia law is built. It’s also coming from an era in which religion and politics were more intertwined - In medieval times, conversion away from Islam was akin to joining the enemy army.
Akyol argues that Islam can support religious liberty if these are reformed.
Richard Thompson then took the stage and began by telling conference attendees thatit’s "disrespectful of Islam" to not take them at their word. "What does Islam stand for? 9/11, Boston marathon bombing, Somalia, anti-semitism, forced marriages, death for blasphemy and apostasy." He went on to explain that most Muslims are not jihadists but most Germans were not Nazis - there is a small group that directs the agenda of the whole. Thompson says that Akyol wants Islam to be something it isn’t, and used a WWII example to set the stage for what he was about to do: “Tell the truth; use their own words.”
Thompson went on to quote Akyol's book, Islam without Extremes: “Islamic societies in the modern world are not beacons of freedom.” He gave this and other examples from Akyol’s book to show that "Islam is a violent religion, was borne of violence, and spreads by violence. We have to understand that if we are to survive as a nation."
Thompson says that Muslims already "fought that battle" between moderate and extreme Islam centuries ago, and the moderates lost. Even Turkey, once held up as an example of moderate Islam, is becoming more extreme today. He says we don’t have time to change Islam, since Muslim countries are beginning to acquire nuclear weapons. Thompson concluded, "We have to be vigilant and understand the nature of the enemy, which is to destroy the United States of America."
Debate followed, and cross-examination ensued, moderated by Kresta. The remainder of the debate focused on trying to identify who is the enemy, since both men agreed that not all Muslims are violent but that some Muslims are extreme jihadists who pose a threat to the U.S.

Morning Groundwork Laid

August 10, 2013 (Ypsilanti, MI) - The "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" conference began today by laying the groundwork for the debates later. Al Kresta spoke on "The Big Difference" between Islam and Christianity, and Andrew Bieszad on "Common and Rocky Ground."

Kresta's talk began with a short YouTube video of a rap by a young Muslim woman, clarifying that we are not discussing here whether Muslims are good or bad people, but whether Islam is a religion of peace, and with a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Islam.
Kresta began to juxtapose Islam and Christianity by presenting a conflict: "is the God of Mohammed also the Father of Jesus? ... There is no way to fit this together. Islam's reason for existence is to proclaim the utter uniqueness of God: He is no Father, and He has no Son... Muslims unequivocally deny the fatherhood of God and the sonship of Christ.”
He went on, "This is the big difference. How would Christianity and Islam answer these questions: Are human beings made in God's image? Does God establish covenants with people?.... We believe Christ images the Father and as Christians we must also image Him in our art. Islam considers this not a step forward but blasphemous."
Andrew Bieszad, in his talk again detailed contrasts between Christianity and Islam, and then outlined options for coexistence, for example, conversion of the Muslim world through Our Lady of Fatima. Formal consecration of Russia to Mary may be the way to conversion.

Problems in the West make it seem that only a miracle could save the West from Islamicization. "But Jesus is the living God of miracles.... He gave his mother to us as a great intercessor. It is she who put the crescent of Islam under her foot."

Biezsad ended by encouraging us all to petition the Holy Father to make a formal consecration of Russia to Our Lady of Fatima, and a plea for Mary to pray for us.
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