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  • Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue slams Islamists

    via Crisis Magazine

    by William Kilpatrick

    William KilpatrickIn reaction to the depredations of the Islamic State in Iraq, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a statement last week strongly condemning the militants. The statement also called on religious leaders, “especially Muslims,” to condemn the crimes and denounce “the use of religion to justify them.” “If not,” it asks, “what credibility will religions, their followers, and their leaders have? What credibility can the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years have?”

    On the one hand, the statement is a positive sign. The veil of illusion about Islam, it appears, may at last be lifting. Since the Council for Interreligious Dialogue has probably done more than any other Catholic organization to keep alive the illusion that the Islamic faith is just like ours, it’s significant that they are calling on their Muslim counterparts to take a stand against Islamist aggression. Up until now, the Pontifical Council has been excessively concerned with the sensibilities of Islamic religious leaders. The new tone suggests a recognition that they also have a responsibility for the lives of Christians who are threatened by Islamists. With its detailed list of unacceptable Islamist practices, the statement indicates a willingness to take a more realistic view of Islam.

    On the other hand, there are a few indications that illusions die hard. The statement is hedged with language which suggests that the bishops still don’t get it—“it” being a clear understanding of Islamic faith, tradition, and history. The main thing to grasp is that Islam is a political religion. It’s as much about power as about piety. Indeed, exercising your power over others is considered to be a valid expression of piety—as in the music videos on Al-Aqsa TV, which proclaim that “Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.”

    In several places, the statement calls on Islamic leaders to “condemn the use of religion as a false justification for terrorism.” “No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity,” says the document. That’s true if you equate “religion” with Christianity, but the religion of Islam can and does justify barbarity—although, from the Islamic point of view, what Allah commands is not barbarity, but simple justice.

    The statement calls on “followers of all religions” to condemn a list of outrages committed by the Islamic State. It’s not clear, however, if the authors of the statement fully realize what they are asking. A devoted follower of the prophet can’t very well condemn these practices because most of them belong to the warp and woof of Islam. A Muslim who rejects them tears at the very fabric of the faith.

    Take the first item on the list: “the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation.” It seems that all reasonable people could unite in condemning that one, but, as it turns out, the Koran contains numerous passages justifying the slaying of unbelievers simply because they are non-Muslims (e.g. 9:5, 9:29, 8:39, 9:123). Next on the list is “the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying, and hanging bodies in public places.” Yet verse 47:4 of the Koran says, “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads,” and Muhammad himself ordered the beheading of between 700 and 900 members of a Jewish tribe of Medina that had surrendered to his forces. Crucifixion? According to verse 5:33, “Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land.”

    The third item of condemnation is “the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of isis groupa tax (jizya), or forced exile.” In July, the Islamic State offered an ultimatum to Northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population: “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.” Once again, this is no idiosyncratic interpretation invented by ISIS, but a well-established Islamic practice. Verse 9:29 of the Koran exhorts Muslims to fight Christians until they pay the jizya and feel themselves subdued, and the triple choice is spelled out in detail in one of the Hadith (the words and sayings of Muhammad):

    When you meet your enemies who are polytheists [which includes Christians], invite them to three courses of action … [accept] Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them.… If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim 19:4294)

    Read More

  • Kresta in the Afternoon – August 20, 2014 – Hour 1

    Kresta in the Afternoon – August 20, 2014 – Hour 1

    • Description: Kresta in the Afternoon is what Catholic radio has been missing: a daily conversation - personal, authentic and human. It looks at all of life through the lens of Scripture and the teaching tradition of the Catholic Church. The scope is not limited to spiritual subjects...our host Al Kresta talks abortion, war, peace, dissent, old age, New Age, heavy metal, light eating, politics, church affairs, current events, family and marriage, movies and media, theology and apologetics, sports, crime and business. It's talk radio where God matters.
  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—August 19, 2014— Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—August 19, 2014— Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Ferguson: The Prayers, the Protests and the Pathetic Media

    • Description: In the days since Michael Brown’s death in Missouri, protests and riots have broken out. Many people are peacefully protesting, while others are resorting to violence and looting. Law enforcement has responded with riot shields, tear gas and rubber bullets. Teresa Tomeo was in Ferguson early this week, and she joins us with her observations on the unrest in the city and how the media is covering it.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Teresa Tomeo
        Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and motivational speaker with more than 30 years of experience in TV, radio and newspaper and spent 19 of those years working in front of a camera as a reporter/anchor in the Detroit market. In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company, Teresa Tomeo Communications, LLC. Her weekday morning radio program, Catholic Connection, is produced by Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, Michigan and now heard on over 200 Catholic stations nationwide through the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network and is also carried on Sirius Satellite Radio.
      • Resources:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization and America

    • Description: Global Crossings cuts through the jungle of myth, falsehood, and misrepresentation that dominates the immigration debate, clarifying the causes and consequences of human migration. Author Alvaro Llosa first looks at the immigrant experience, which connects the present to the past, and America to the rest of the world, and explores who immigrants are and why they move. He reviews such topics as religion, education, entrepreneurial spirit, and attitudes toward the receiving society, and analyzes economic factors that include jobs, wages, education, and the welfare state. Alvaro joins us.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization and America (continued)

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— August 19, 2014 — Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”— August 19, 2014 — Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Kresta Comments: God has no grandchildren—Why adult Christians fall away from the Faith.

    + Segment #2 of 3

    The Bible and Economic Justice

    • Description: Tim Gray, the president and an associate professor of Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute, joins us to discuss what the Bible says about economic justice.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Attending to Kenya’s poorest children

    • Description: More than half of Kenya’s population is younger than 15 and 46% of the population lives on less than $1 per day. Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to helping provide education and nutrition for Kenya’s children. A donation of $110 will give a child meals and a strong Catholic education for one year. Outreach President Jim Cavnar joins us.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Jim Cavnar
        Jim is the President Cross Catholic Outreach
  • Mosul’s Christians recount flight from historic home under ISIS threat

    via Fox News\

    by Benjamin Hall

    In a church in the northern Iraq city of Sulemaniyah, Munira Aziz lay in a corner, her hip broken, her voice almost gone and a piece of cardboard the 74-year-old woman’s only protection from the blistering sun streaming in through a broken window.

    About 170 miles from the home in Mosul she may never see again, she was at least safe. She considers herself lucky.

    “We heard the gunshots outside our door, and knew the terrorists were killing Christians,” Aziz said in a raspy whisper. “But we hoped someone might rescue us. We cowered inside for two days, then knew we had to leave. We gathered some clothes and left at night.”

    Mosul, a home to Christians for two millennia, has been purged of them. Long a minority on the vast Ninevah plains, and accustomed to persecution, they nonetheless survived alongside Muslims. But when the bloodthirsty jihadist marauders known as Islamic State moved in, seizing Iraq’s second-largest city and announcing a caliphate of strict Shariah law, Christian homes were marked with the letter “N,” for Nasare – a Muslim term for Christians which derives from Nazareth. They were told to convert to Islam or die. Those who could, fled, said Aziz.

    “There were Christians everywhere we went. In every garden, and in every door way, there are just so many with nothing and with nowhere to go.”

    - Munira Aziz, 74

    Unable to sit up, Aziz recounted her family’s escape from Mosul, where endless Islamic State shelling left her neighborhood demolished. Six members, ranging in age from 8 to 78, made their way to the Christian town of Qaraqosh, only to find jihadists had overrun it, too. The next stop in the painful exodus was Erbil, where they wandered the streets for days, sleeping in gardens and on roads before getting back on the move again.

    “There were Christians everywhere we went. In every garden, and in every doorway, there are just so many with nothing and with nowhere to go,” Aziz said. “But I am so happy now we are safe, we are the lucky ones.”

    In Sulemaniyah, they found shelter — and hundreds of fellow refugees — at Maryouss Church. More than a dozen isis refugeeChristians pack into 100-square-foot rooms to sleep in a scene played out at every Christian church in the region, safe at least for now from merciless fighters from Islamic State, the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS.

    Several of the Christian refugees told similarly harrowing tales of escaping with little but their lives and faith. Grateful for help and happy to be alive, they bear the suffering of recent weeks with a fortitude borne of years of persecution. For many, this is not the first time they have had to flee. In fact, Christians here have been persecuted for decades, first under Saddam Hussein, then by a succession of jihadists groups.

    Many of Iraq’s Christians have never known a real home, only the feeling of moving from place to place — always in limbo.

    A 10-year-old boy named Aws, staying at Maryouss and playing near Aziz, replied to a query about whether he wanted to go home.

    “No, this is nicer,” he said quietly, displaying a hand-drawn Orthodox cross on his arm.

    Aws’ father was killed by jihadists and his family fled their home in northern Iraq when he was a toddler. They rebuilt their lives in a village near Mosul, but now they have fled again, because, he said, “the bombs were too close, and the windows all smashed. Many people were dead.”

    His mother, who refused to give her name out of fear, told me she had spent the last few years saving to buy a home in her new village, but suddenly again had nothing. She cleaned the whole house before leaving it, hoping that perhaps one day she can go back.

    Christians told FoxNews.com that converting to Islam, even under threat of death, was never an option.

    “People say it would be easy to become a Muslim, but my religion is everything I now have — why would I give that up?” one said. “I would die first.”

    Their hopes now lie with the Kurdish Peshmerga, which, backed by U.S. airstrikes and working with Iraq’s national army, is fighting the Islamic State. They have won back control of several key cities and retaken the critical Mosul Dam. Christians hope the Kurdish fighters will help them regain their homes.

    “Please, tell the world what is happening,” Aziz said. “Please tell the world we just want to go home. We just want to live,we just want to be safe.”

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— August 19, 2014

    Talking about the “things that matter most” on August 19

     

    4:00 – Ferguson: The Prayers, the Protests and the Pathetic Media

     

    In the days since Michael Brown’s death in Missouri, protests and riots have broken out. Many people are peacefully protesting, while others are resorting to violence and looting. Law enforcement has responded with riot shields, tear gas and rubber bullets. Teresa Tomeo was in Ferguson early this week, and she joins us with her observations on the unrest in the city and how the media is covering it.

     

    4:20 – Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization and America

     

    Global Crossings cuts through the jungle of myth, falsehood, and misrepresentation that dominates the immigration debate, clarifying the causes and consequences of human migration. Author Alvaro Llosa first looks at the immigrant experience, which connects the present to the past, and America to the rest of the world, and explores who immigrants are and why they move. He reviews such topics as religion, education, entrepreneurial spirit, and attitudes toward the receiving society, and analyzes economic factors that include jobs, wages, education, and the welfare state. Alvaro joins us.

     

    5:00 – Kresta Comments: God has no grandchildren—Why adult Christians fall away from the Faith.

     

     

    5:20 – The Bible and Economic Justice

     

    Tim Gray, the president and an associate professor of Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute, joins us to discuss what the Bible says about economic justice.

     

     

    5:40 – Attending to Kenya’s poorest children

     

    More than half of Kenya’s population is younger than 15 and 46% of the population lives on less than $1 per day. Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to helping provide education and nutrition for Kenya’s children. A donation of $110 will give a child meals and a strong Catholic education for one year. Outreach President Jim Cavnar joins us. 

  • The True Gift of The Giver

    via Crisis Magazine

    by Anne Hendershott

    HendershottMore than two decades ago—long before we all were transfixed by the rebelliousness demonstrated by Katniss Everdeen in the dystopian society presented in the Hunger Games, or Tris Prior in the dystopian Divergent—Newberry Medal-winning novelist, Lois Lowry published The Giver, a novel designed for a young-adult audience, which described a totalitarian society in which no one was given a choice about anything.

    In Lowry’s dystopia, all members were relieved of the anxiety that accompanies the act of choosing. The burden of choosing was given over to the State—through the Elders—who made all the decisions for the residents. Everyone was happy in this worry-free environment because the State provided everything for its residents. The State chose your spouse, the children you would raise—or never be allowed to raise, the house you would live in, the uniform you would wear, and the career you would pursue. No one even had to think about what to eat for dinner because all of those decisions were made by the Elders who created guidelines for balanced meals to be delivered to the doors of each household unit each day. School lunches were carefully calibrated and monitored by the central authority to ensure that each child received the appropriate nutritional balance.

    The book quickly became a huge hit—albeit a controversial one as parents were always a bit concerned about the content which was frightening to some because in a dystopian society like this one, the authority of parents was usurped by the State, and there was no room at all for God. Still, the book became “required reading” on middle school reading lists throughout the country—and beyond. Readers of all ages enjoyed the story of Jonas, the 12-year-old boy, who courageously challenges the oppressive control exerted by the State.

    So smitten with the book, eighteen years ago, The Giver was optioned for a film by actor-producer, Jeff Bridges, but the movie was never made. No one really knows quite why—even the author—who has said in interviews that perhaps the country was not yet ready for a film about such a dystopian society.

    But, times have changed. In today’s era of state surveillance of our personal lives through the monitoring of our email and phone communications—along with the unprecedented interference into our religious freedom and the private affairs of our families, The Giver seems so much less implausible than it used to seem. Who might have guessed in 1993, when The Giver was first published, that someday a Mayor of New York City would try to ban large cups of soda, or the First Lady of the United States would prescribe exactly what children would eat in their school lunches.

    Indeed, The Giver is a film for our times. Released on August 15, the film grossed $12.7 million in its opening weekend as givertheatre goers continue to be attracted to the cautionary tale of a society that has lost its way. Just as in the book, the film portrays the agonizing lack of individuality and total control over the residents. Meryl Streep plays the role of one of the Senior Elders who makes many of the decisions for the others. Justifying her role as decision-maker in the film, she claims that when decisions are left to individuals, “they always choose wrong—every single time,” Lowry’s learned Elders accepted the “burden” of making all of the decisions for the others. Believing that the Elders knew best about the well-being of the members, the society these community leaders created was “perfect” in every way. There was no war, no anger, no envy, no poverty and no wealth. Every material need was met. Even the climate was controlled by the state so there was never any snow or rain to make sidewalks and bike paths slippery or dangerous. There were no cars or trains to pollute the environment—residents used only the bicycles that each received at the Ceremony of the Tens—a happy day when each ten-year old received their one prized possession.

    Of course such total control carries costs. There was no art, no music, no theatre, and most importantly, no love. In the film, medication is administered to keep emotions away. In the book while medication is used to control what are called the “stirrings” of love and attraction, the film seems to focus more on the use of mood stabilizers to control all moods and emotions. This really was not necessary because in a true totalitarian society, no medication is needed to control that which is controlled by the norms and values imposed by the community. The film also recasts Jonas as a 16-year-old, instead of a 12-year-old child as in the original story. Perhaps this makes him a more plausible hero.

    Read More

  • Nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge? Donate to this Morally Acceptable Alternative!

    via Patheos

    As the ALS association is supportive of embryonic stem cell research, we as catholics ought not to support it, especially when there are morally acceptable alternatives.  TheJohn Paul II Medical Research Institute is just that, a morally acceptable alternative to the ALS Association.

    If you are nominated to do the Ice Bucket challenge, donate to the JPII Medical Research Institute:

    Capital Campaign

    The John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JP2MRI) is excited to kick off 2014 with a One Million Dollar Capital Campaign Drive to start the process of developing adult stem cell therapies. The JP2MRI focuses on regenerative medicine in which adult stem cells will be used to treat patients with chronic diseases like cancer, pulmonary disease and neurodegenerative disorders. Seventy-five percent of healthcare costs are due to chronic diseases, with many of these conditions lacking any medical cures. Adult stem cells have the potential to repair damaged organs, which in return would decrease healthcare costs and restore an improved quality of life for patients. Before the Institute can initiate adult stem cell clinical trials, the FDA requires that adult stem cells need to be manufactured in a “clean room” or sterile room.

    The cost to build and initiate the operation is anticipated to be 1 million dollars. Funds raised from the One Million Dollar Capital Campaign Drive will be used to help build the clean room, lease additional laboratory space, hire scientific personnel and purchase necessary laboratory equipment to develop adult stem cell therapies.

    The John Paul II Medical Research Institute is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. Your gift to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute may qualify as a charitable deduction for federal tax purposes as permitted by law. The support of donors is at the heart of advancing research and education at John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Your generous donations enable our staff of physicians, scientists, and researchers to advance cutting edge basic and clinical research in adult and umbilical cord stem cell research that reflects pro-life values.

    Our donors have an opportunity to help find better treatments for cardiopulmonary disease, neuromuscular disease, cancer and other conditions that could benefit from adult and umbilical cord stem cells.

    Please help the Institute by making a donation.

    To donate, please click on the Paypal Icon [HERE] or send a check to the address below.

    Thank You.

    Checks can be made payable to: John Paul II Medical Research Institute

    John Paul II Medical Research Institute
    540 E. Jefferson St.
    Suite 305
    Iowa City, IA 52245

  • 3 of Pope Francis’ Relatives Killed in Car Crash

    via Time

    by Laura Stampler

    Three members of Pope Francis’ family were killed in a car accident in Argentina Tuesday,CNN reports, including his 8-month-old and 2-year-old grand-nephews and their mother.

    A Cordoba police spokesperson told news outlets that the pope’s nephew, Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, crashed into a truck on the highway at 12:30 a.m. Bergoglio is currently in the hospital under serious condition.

    The Pope’s spokesperson said he was “profoundly saddened” by news of the accident, BBC reports.

    On a flight back to the Vatican from South Korea Tuesday morning, the Pope had been lightheartedly discussing his own mortality with the press, saying he expected to be in “the Father’s house” in some two or three years.

     

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—August 18, 2014—Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—August 18, 2014—Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Direct to My Desk

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Direct to My Desk

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Direct to My Desk

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