Thursday, 31 July 2008
A 2,100-year-old "computer" found in a Roman shipwreck may have acted as a calendar for the Olympic Games, scientists report in Nature journal.
The Antikythera Mechanism has puzzled experts since its discovery by Greek sponge divers in 1901.
Researchers have long suspected the ancient clockwork device was used to display astronomical cycles.
A team has now found that one of the dials records the dates of the ancient Olympiad.
This could have been to provide a benchmark for the passage of time.
The device is made up of bronze gearwheels and dials, and scientists know of nothing like it until at least 1,000 years later.
Tony Freeth, a member of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, said he was "astonished" at the discovery.
"The Olympiad cycle was a very simple, four-year cycle and you don't need a sophisticated instrument like this to calculate it. It took us by huge surprise when we saw this.
"But the Games were of such cultural and social importance that it's not unnatural to have it in the Mechanism."
The technique of X-ray computed tomography gave the researchers a 3D view of its 29 surviving gears. High-resolution imaging provided them with a close-up of tiny letters engraved on the surface.
The device's "subsidiary dial" was once thought to be a 76-year "callippic" calendar.
However, Mr Freeth and his colleagues have now been able to establish from its inscriptions that it displays the 4-year Olympiad cycle.
Instead of one Olympics as there is today, the ancient Olympiads, called the Panhellenic Games, comprised four games spread over four years.
The four sectors of the dial are inscribed with a year number and two Panhellenic Games: the "crown" games of Isthmia, Olympia, Nemea and Pythia; and two lesser games: Naa (held at Dodona) and a second game which has not yet been deciphered.
In addition, the team was able to identify the names of all 12 months, which belong to the Corinthian family of months.
Corinth, in central Greece, established colonies in north-western Greece, Corfu and Sicily, where Archimedes was established.
Archimedes, whose list of exploits included an explanation for the displacement of water and a screw pump that bears his name today, died there in 212 BC.
The Antikythera Mechanism was "almost certainly made many decades" after his death, according to Alexander Jones, a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York, US.
If it came from Syracuse, the dial could have been made by the school of scientists and instrument-makers he inspired.
The priceless artefact was found by a sponge diver amid other treasures on a wreck near the tiny island of Antikythera between Crete and the mainland. It is on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
VATICAN CITY, JULY 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is following with "serious attention" the request from the Traditional Anglican Communion for "full, corporate, sacramental union" with Rome.This was affirmed by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, in a July 5 letter to the primate of the Anglican group, Archbishop John Hepworth.The letter was written before the beginning of the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of Anglican leaders that is under way in England through Aug. 4.
The Lambeth Conference is facing unprecedented controversy, and some bishops boycotted it altogether. The conflict within the Communion has arisen over debate about the possibility of ordaining homosexual bishops and blessing homosexual marriages. A synod decision this summer to pave the way for the episcopal ordination of women has further alienated some Anglican leaders, many of whom were in disagreement with the Communion's decision to ordain women as priests.According to Cardinal Levada's letter, "over the course of the past year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has studied the proposals which you presented on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion during your visit to the offices of this dicastery on Oct. 9, 2007."
"As the summer months approach, I wish to assure you the serious attention which the congregation gives to the prospect of corporate unity raised in that letter," the cardinal added.The Traditional Anglican Communion states that its aim is "to recall Anglicanism to its heritage, to heal divisions caused by departures from the faith, and to build a vibrant church for the future based on powerful local leadership." By some counts, it has about 400,000 faithful. If the request for "corporate union" is deemed possible, it would imply the entrance of entire parish communities into communion with Rome.Cardinal Levada acknowledged that "the situation within the Anglican Communion in general has become markedly more complex" since the Traditional Anglican Communion's request was originally made.
He affirmed that "as soon as the congregation is in position to respond more definitely concerning the proposals you have sent, we will inform you."The Anglican primate received the letter via the apostolic nuncio in Australia last Friday. He immediately made public a note expressing his gratitude for the Vatican message."It is a letter of warmth and encouragement," he said. "I have responded, expressing my gratitude on behalf of 'my brother bishops,' reaffirming our determination to achieve the unity for which Jesus prayed with such intensity at the Last Supper, no matter what the personal cost this might mean in our discipleship."
"This letter should encourage our entire Communion, and those friends who have been assisting us," Archbishop Hepworth added. "It should also spur us to renewed prayer for the Holy Father, for Cardinal Levada and his staff at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and for all our clergy and people as we move to ever closer communion in Christ with the Holy See."
Wednesday, 30 July 2008 12:35
Sure, I whack and insult those Malays who claim to be Muslims. But they are not of my religion. I am not of their religion. They and I do not share the same God. I whack and insult them because they have false Gods.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin Call to media to stop portraying Islam, Muslims negatively
(Bernama, 30 July 2008)
-- The media must give fair coverage and balanced representation on Islam and Muslims in reporting conflicts involving Islam and Muslims, said Dr Haja Mohideen Mohamed Ali, a lecturer from the Communications Department of International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM).He said distinctive choice of words, phrases and terminology used by the media in reporting on Islam and issues concerning Muslims could have a negative impact on the perception of Islam and its followers by the global public.
"Some of the media are responsible, they like to look things from a proper perspective but a lack of understanding of Islam and Muslims cause them to use negative terms when reporting on the religion and Muslims," he said when presenting his paper "Linguistic (MIS)Representation of Islam and Muslims in Conflicts Reporting in the Print Media" at the International Conference on the Representation of Islam and Muslims in the Media here, Tuesday.Haja Mohideen said the misrepresentation of Muslims could also be found in the media from Muslim countries, although at a smaller scale compared to the media from the West.His views was shared by another scholar, Dr Zulkarimein Nasution, a lecturer from the Communications Department of the University of Indonesia.
Zulkarimein said bias against an ethnic or religious group such as Muslims in the mass media had negative impacts on peoples beliefs and perceptions and that the best approach to minimise the effects was through education."The public, especially the younger generation, should be taught how to analyse the mass media. They should be made aware that the representations made by the media are not always appropriate, and that what they see or hear in the mass media is not always the reality," he said.He said, when a negative act was done by non-Muslims, the media did not label their act by their religion but only focused on their act alone unlike Muslims' negative acts, where they are always associated with the religion they profess.
He said the media should give a neutral representation of Muslims by not giving any reference to the doers of the act, rather by referring to the act itself.More than 27 communications scholars from Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Canada, Qatar, Indonesia, the United States and United Arab Emirates are participating in the two-day conference which ends tomorrow. The conference is organised by IIUM.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has shown that World Youth Days are an ordinary part of the Church's life, not just an invention of Pope John Paul II.
Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, affirmed this before Benedict XVI gave his final blessing to some 400,000 gathered at Randwick Racecourse on Sunday for the closing of the 23rd World Youth Day. The president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, also addressed the group.
Cardinal Pell thanked the pilgrims for traveling to his country, noting that such an undertaking isn't easy.
"We hope in turn that you will carry home fond memories not only of our hospitality, but of our Christian witness. […] I know that many of you made great sacrifices to share these days with us," he said. "You have honored Australia with your presence and your enthusiasm. We are humbled and grateful. We assure you that your witness here will not be forgotten. You have planted a seed here in Great South Land that will, please God, yield a hundredfold harvest."
Addressing the Pope, the prelate thanked him for having made World Youth Day an "ordinary part" of the Church's life.
"Your Holiness, the World Youth Days were the invention of Pope John Paul the Great," Cardinal Pell recalled. "The World Youth Day in Cologne was already announced before your election. You decided to continue the World Youth Days and to hold this one in Sydney. We are profoundly grateful for this decision, indicating that the World Youth Days do not belong to one pope, or even one generation, but are now an ordinary part of the life of the Church. The John Paul II generation, young and old alike, is proud to be faithful sons and daughters of Pope Benedict."
At this, the Holy Father raised his hands and the crowd erupted into cheers.
Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, addressed the Pontiff and the pilgrims, saying the youth are "a wonderful illustration of a young Church, filled with hope, with the joy of faith, and with missionary courage."
He said that during World Youth Day, "in so many languages and in many different ways, they have proclaimed Jesus Christ, the only savior of humanity. They have given witness that to be disciples of Christ is very rewarding; to be Christian is a very beautiful thing! Throughout these few days we have been present at a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We have been aware of the breath and power of the Spirit among us."
Cardinal Rylko thanked Benedict XVI for his "paternal presence," saying it is "great encouragement for us because it is an eloquent sign of the love of the Church for the young generations. In you, Holy Father, we see a Church that is a friend to young people: a Church that listens to them, searches them out, accompanies them and teaches them."
Finally, he noted that the conclusion of World Youth Day is really just a beginning.
"Holy Father," the cardinal said, "the culminating point of the 23rd World Youth Day has come: the sending out on mission. In a year that is dedicated to St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, this takes on a very special significance. Recalling Paul's powerful missionary zeal -- "Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!" -- all of these young people wish to set out from Sydney to their respective countries and the places where they live and there to be young missionaries of Christ and the Gospel.
"They are very aware of what you once told us: 'There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Christ and to speak to others of our friendship with him. (...) Christ takes nothing away, and he gives you everything.'"
Urges Youth to Believe in the Power of the Spirit
SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Although it's not easy to understand the role of the Holy Spirit in one's life, Benedict XVI says one can be certain that the Spirit is the silent and hidden guide toward unity and reconciliation.
The Pope said this at the World Youth Day vigil Saturday night at the Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. Giovanni Maria Vian, director de L'Osservatore Romano, said the discourse of the Holy Father was "one of the most beautiful texts of his pontificate."The Pontiff said the words of Christ taken as the theme of World Youth Day 2008 -- "You Will Receive Power When the Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You and You Will be My Witnesses” -- "were the very last words which Jesus spoke before his Ascension into heaven.""How the Apostles felt upon hearing them, we can only imagine," said Benedict XVI. "But we do know that their deep love for Jesus, and their trust in his word, prompted them to gather and to wait; to wait not aimlessly, but together, united in prayer, with the women and Mary in the Upper Room."Tonight, we do the same. Gathered before our much-traveled cross and the icon of Mary, and under the magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross, we pray."The Pontiff said that he was praying for the youth of the world: "Accept into your hearts and minds the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit! Recognize and believe in the power of the Spirit in your lives!"Silent and unseenThe Pope said it's not easy to "understand the person of the Holy Spirit and his vivifying presence in our lives.""Indeed," he said, "the variety of images found in Scripture referring to the Spirit -- wind, fire, breath -- indicate our struggle to articulate an understanding of him."Yet we do know that it is the Holy Spirit who, though silent and unseen, gives direction and definition to our witness to Jesus Christ."The world, Benedict XVI said, is "in many ways is fragile." He said it is "weakened by wounds which run particularly deep when social relations break apart, or when the human spirit is all but crushed through the exploitation and abuse of persons."He continued: "Society today is being fragmented by a way of thinking that is inherently shortsighted, because it disregards the full horizon of truth -- the truth about God and about us."By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles which enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony."The answer to this fragmentation is unity, but the Pope reminded the pilgrims that "unity and reconciliation cannot be achieved through our efforts alone. [...] Only in God and his Church can we find the unity we seek."Temptation"It is the Spirit, in fact, who guides the Church in the way of all truth and unifies her in communion and in the works of ministry," the Holy Father said. "Unfortunately, the temptation to 'go it alone' persists."Some today portray their local community as somehow separate from the so-called institutional Church, by speaking of the former as flexible and open to the Spirit and the latter as rigid and devoid of the Spirit.""Be watchful! Listen," he urged. "Through the dissonance and division of our world, can you hear the concordant voice of humanity? From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity."The Pontiff reminded the young pilgrims that it is the Holy Spirit "who satisfies that essential human yearning to be one, to be immersed in communion, to be built up, to be led to truth.""This is the Spirit’s role," he continued, "to bring Christ’s work to fulfillment. Enriched with the Spirit’s gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!"Gratitude"Tonight, gathered under the beauty of the night sky, our hearts and minds are filled with gratitude to God for the great gift of our Trinitarian faith," said Benedict XVI. "We recall our parents and grandparents who walked alongside us when we, as children, were taking our first steps in our pilgrim journey of faith. "Now many years later, you have gathered as young adults with the Successor of Peter. I am filled with deep joy to be with you. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit: He is the artisan of God’s works. Let his gifts shape you!"He urged the young pilgrims to "exercise the Spirit’s gifts amidst the ups and downs of your daily life. Let your faith mature through your studies, work, sport, music and art."Let it be sustained by prayer and nurtured by the sacraments, and thus be a source of inspiration and help to those around you," continued the Pope. "In the end, life is not about accumulation. It is much more than success."To be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God’s love. In accepting the power of the Holy Spirit you too can transform your families, communities and nations. Set free the gifts! Let wisdom, courage, awe and reverence be the marks of greatness!"
Friday, 18 July 2008
Posted by Super Admin
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Leslie Lau, The Malaysian Insider
If Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is charged for sodomy again, he will not be the only one in the dock.
On trial with him will be the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's proposed reforms.
Also facing sentence will be the justice and legal system. And most of all, Abdullah should know, the country will be on trial.
That is why his administration will have to go the extra mile in ensuring the case is handled by the book.
So far, the authorities have not been off to a good start. Public perception of Anwar's arrest yesterday was generally negative because of what was considered to be the high-handed way in which police detained him.
"I cannot believe the police would take 15 cars there to arrest one man. This is not 1998," an Umno MP told The Malaysian Insider, in comments which suggested rare bipartisan agreement that the police in Malaysia can sometimes be too heavy-handed.
After the arrest, the police took pains to explain they had done everything by the book.
But for now sympathy rests with Anwar, with most Malaysians hoping against a complete repeat of the incidents 10 years ago when the former DPM faced almost identical sodomy charges.
Except for the way the arrest was conducted, the police appear ready to go the extra mile.
Now that Anwar has refused to take a DNA test, presumably because he has no faith in the system and is arguing a conspiracy against him, the police are said to be prepared to have foreign experts brought in to examine him.
But it is if the case goes to trial that the government faces its biggest challenge.
Anwar's 1998 arrest and subsequent trials are considered to be among the lowest points of the Malaysian judiciary and legal system.
This time, Abdullah is in the midst of pushing through reforms to the judiciary and the legal system. The fragile judiciary could suffer a huge body blow from another Anwar trial.
In arguing conspiracy, Anwar has already accused the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General, both of whom were involved in his arrest and trials 10 years ago, of fabricating evidence in relation to the assault he suffered while in detention then.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the Attorney-General's Chambers has already decided that the A-G himself will not be involved in the prosecution.
A Queen's Counsel from the United Kingdom has been considered to lead a prosecution team.
While bringing in a QC will not be popular, especially among more nationalistic quarters, it may well be the best bet in winning the battle of perception with a public inclined to believe that any trial involving Anwar will not be fair.
A special prosecutor could still be considered a compromise.
But whatever the choice, even if a conviction is secured with legally sound measures, the government could end up with a bloody nose.
To try to avoid that, the authorities must realise that this is not just about going by the book but about perception.
By Anthony Barich and Catherine Smibert
SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Two days of waiting for Benedict XVI to officially arrive at World Youth Day seemed like an eternity for young pilgrims across Sydney. This only led to a build up of excitement, which brimmed over as the Holy Father disembarked at Barangaroo for the welcoming ceremony with the youth day pilgrims on Thursday afternoon local time.The first glimpse of the flotilla of 13 vessels dubbed the papal "boat-a-cade" in the distance set off the chants -- "Ben-e-det-to" and "Viva il Papa" -- from approximately 500,000 youth and locals lining the shores and streets of Sydney.
Benedict XVI boarded at Rose Bay, East Sydney, where he was welcomed by aboriginal representatives, and traveled on the "Sydney 2000" Captain Cook cruise liner around the bays of the city to then arrive at Barangaroo.After the Holy Father passed through an indigenous guard of honor on the boat, rapturous cheers emanated from all sections of the 22-hectare disused shipping port in East Darling Harbor. Benedict XVI could not keep the smile from his face, even throughout his lengthy welcoming speech in which he reminded the crowd, and all those watching his arrival live on huge screens around the city, that whatever their weaknesses, they can build a kingdom of love when empowered by the Holy Spirit."In many ways the Apostles were ordinary," the Pope said.
"None could claim to be the perfect disciple. They failed to recognize Christ, felt ashamed of their own ambition and had even denied him."Yet, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, they were transfixed by the truth of Christ's Gospel and inspired to proclaim it fearlessly."Greatest storyHe likened the pioneering religious and priests who came to Australia's shores -- and to other parts of the Pacific from Ireland, France, Britain, Belgium and elsewhere in Europe -- to the Apostles who, in obedience to Christ's command, set forth bearing witness to "the greatest story ever."The Pontiff called the youth to look to the patrons of World Youth Day 2008 for inspiration, including Australian Blessed Mary MacKillop, the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, and Blessed Peter To Rot, a martyr from what is now known as Papua New Guinea.
Benedict XVI warned against relativism, and said that there is "something sinister" which stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth, fuelled by the notion that there are no absolute truths to guide their life.He said that experiences detached from any consideration of what is good or true can lead not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, a lowering of standards, a loss of self-respect and "even to despair."The Pope said the answer to and ultimate freedom from life's problems lies in Christ, and his Church."Christ offers more," the Holy Father exclaimed. "Indeed, he offers everything. Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life. Thus the 'Way' which the Apostles brought to the ends of the earth is life in Christ."This is the life of the Church; and the entrance to this life, to the Christian way, is baptism.
Benedict XVI also addressed the problem he identified shortly after he announced that Australia would host the 2008 World Youth Day -- the increasingly secular nature of Australian society.Though secularism often presents itself as neutral, impartial and inclusive of everyone, the Pope warned that it also imposes a worldview."If God is irrelevant in public life, then society will be shaped with little or no reference to the Creator," he said.The Pontiff said that concern for nonviolence, sustainable development, justice, peace and care for the environment, while of "vital importance," cannot be disassociated from a "profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death. "He said this is a dignity that is conferred by God himself and thus inviolable.
He urged the thousands of young people to bring the message to the world that freedom is found in truth, and that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, strengthened by the sacraments of the Church.New missionMichael Dooley, a 28-year-old Catholic from Queensland told ZENIT that as of today's moment with the Pope, he feels a new call to mission. "It says in the Bible that when a priest speaks they should speak as if they are words from God," says Dooley, "and I'm certain that each one of us present for his speech today were touched deeply as it came from the vicar of Christ himself."
Flags were hung over barricades and songs were sung as the final leg of the Popemobile traveled around the Opera House toward St. Mary's Cathedral, where Benedict XVI will be staying through Monday.One group, originally from Cologne, compared the experience this time around as being "slightly more personal," due to the smaller crowds and the more "laid back and easy-going atmosphere amid the excitement, which appears typically Australian," said Henny Vias. "It's so comforting to have the Holy Father among us," said 17-year-old Tani Watson of the United States. "It's like having the great Father who unifies us all and by his presence, shows us youth that we mean something and have worth."
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Taronga Zoo outfitted its Zoo Mobile today in Sydney with animals such as a koala bear and a carpet python, and headed to the Kenthurst Study Center for a private audience with the Pope."We wanted to offer the Holy Father an opportunity to experience some of Australia's unique fauna, and were delighted when our partners at Taronga Zoo offered to help," said Father Mark Podesta, World Youth Day spokesman.
"The Holy Father expressed that he wanted to meet some of our native animals, so we were more than happy to offer him this experience," he said. Other animals presented to the Pontiff included a red-necked wallaby, shingle back lizards, a parrot, a possum, a baby crocodile, an echidna and a kangaroo.The Pope patted each of the animals and thanked the team from Taronga Zoo.
Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, explained in a press conference today that it is a tradition in Australia to show visitors the richness of the island's fauna."They proposed to the Pope, as they sometimes do, to take the koala in his arms," added the spokesman, "but the Pope responded saying that it was more secure in the arms of its care keeper."
SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils is praying for peace and harmony among all people of good will during the World Youth Day activities in Sydney.President Ikebal Patel sent out a statement this week in which he extended "sincere greetings to the Catholic community of Australia on behalf of the Muslims of Australia."He continued, "I take this opportunity on behalf of the Muslims of Australia to also extend our good wishes to all Australians of all faiths on this auspicious occasion of World Youth Day and pray for peace, harmony and goodwill among all Australians and peoples all over the world.
"We also take this occasion as Australian Muslims to welcome His Holiness Pope Benedict as well as all other pilgrims to Australia."Patel also mentioned that he is "particularly proud" that the Catholic Church accepted the offer of the Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney to host 350 pilgrims during the festivities. Some Muslim school students will take part in serving the pilgrims, and the school will hold an interfaith event during the week.
On Thursday, Benedict will meet with 40 representatives of other faiths including Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu leaders.More than 340,000 Muslims reside in Australia.Father Mark Podesta, a World Youth Day spokesman, said the involvement of Islamic schools "is an opportunity to show the rest of the world that people of different backgrounds and different beliefs can live alongside one another in peace and goodwill and harmony."
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Posted by Erin
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
On the other hand, it was a very successful political appearance by Anwar Ibrahim who is facing police interrogation on Wednesday 16th July for what his party and his supporters calls yet another ‘conspiracy’ revolving around a sodomy case.
A clear victory with solid arguments and a show of professionalism is what Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and now de-facto leader of the Opposition delivered on local television. His contender, Minister Saberi Cheek was full of rhetoric and made direct personal attacks against Anwar in a show of no competence from a Minister.
“It was ‘classic, timepiece’ Anwar Ibrahim. I have not seen such an Anwar on TV for a very long time. I bet there will be no further debates in the future,” said a member of the public, watching the debate on channel 119 on Astro, the Malaysian satellite television station.
“Deplorable it is that the debate on oil was held in the presence of a crowd (at least a large number of the crowd) that came to listen to the political bashing of Anwar Ibrahim by Saberi Cheek, not to support a civilized and professional debate between two politicians,” said another member of the public.
“Good enough though that Anwar Ibrahim won the debate upper handed, crushing the weak and ill-prepared Saberi Cheek on all grounds,” she added.
It was a fabulous 12-0 victory for Anwar Ibrahim, a victory that could lead the country to a massive change of regime in any future general elections. Anwar Ibrahim hinted that with the government continuing to ignore the facts, the ruling coalition was fated to a much bleaker future.
While Anwar was responding to the questions with facts and figures, Minister Saberi Cheek, who is Minister of Information of Malaysia, was busy referring to the role of Anwar as loose cannon in the 1970’s. Minister Saberi Cheek made several references to Anwar’s role as Minister of Finance in the past, which prompted responses from Anwar about the debate which was not concerning Anwar but the issue of oil price hike in Malaysia.
Besides being rhetorical, Minister Saberi was very ‘partisan’ in pointing issues that had nothing to do with the debate, showing difficulties to handle his direct opponent on major issues of economics and social responsibilities. Minister Saberi Cheek used his emotions to try propelling himself to the same level as Anwar. He might have succeeded in the election evening like propaganda but faced with Anwar; the Minister stumbled completely and delivered one of his government’s worst performances on television.
Anwar on the other hand, a fine gentleman, was more often direct to the point, refusing to be dragged into the political ploy from the Minister and his aide and answering all the questions with tact and logic. His strategy worked well and the display of this performance on television – for the first time in Malaysian history – will only fuel his popularity further and dampen the government’s claims of incapacity to restore the subsidy on oil.
Anwar explained that it was a debate on oil and how to reduce the price in order to redress the economy of the country, which he suggested was going astray and was imposing much pain on the population. He had to complain at least 4 times to the Minister that the latter was out of focus. He even said that if it was so hard for the Minister to understand the reason of the debate in the first place then it is ‘difficult’.
Anwar said the government could reverse the decision taken in April this year when it increased the price of oil by 41 percent, with the fuel price jumping from Rm1.92 to Rm2.70, which he said he would be able to reduce by Rm0.50 cent if he was in power.
He added that by imposing transparency and good governance his government or the opposition in power would be able to restore fuel subsidies but also correct the imbalances in the economy. He added that the country had a much bigger inflation figure, suggesting that the current inflationary figure given by the government was incorrect.
Lambasting the Minister with a ‘who would teach you’ that if oil price is increased in a country, inflation remains at its former level, Anwar said in the case of a country like Malaysia it was obvious that oil price increase had affected other products too.
Anwar explained that the debate was not about demonizing Petronas, the National Petroleum Company of Malaysia but to show the incompetence of the government in dealing with the global oil price rise. The Minister insisted that Anwar Ibrahim was attacking Petronas and the government, which ostensibly was not the case.
"Too often in the history of the world when young people traveled in great numbers to other parts of the world, they do so in the cause of war. But you here today are here as pilgrims of peace," he said.The prime minister spoke about the role of faith in today's world and in history.He said: "Some say there is no place for faith in the 21st century. I say they are wrong. Some say that faith is the enemy of reason, I say, also they are wrong. Because faith and reason are great partners in our human history and in our human future. Rich in humanity, rich in scientific progress."Some say only that which they see wrong in Christianity and in the Church, I say let us speak also about what is right in Christianity and the Church."Rudd noted that the Church began the first schools and hospitals for the poor: "And I say this, that Christianity has been an overwhelming force for good in the world."
"Australia is a land of great freedom, a land of many cultures, a land of many faiths," Rudd continued. "But also a land deeply shaped by and proud of this nation’s Christian heritage and future. And within that great Christian heritage, we honor deeply the great Catholic heritage of Australia as well."Catholicism is now the religious tradition with the largest number of adherents in Australia, some 26% of its 20 million people.
"You come here as young pilgrims of the world," Rudd added. "I say to you as I conclude, as Prime Minister of Australia, you are welcome guests in our land. May each of you be enriched by your time here among us in Australia just as you enrich Australia by your time here with us. Welcome to Australia."
By Anthony Barich and Catherine Smibert
SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Generation Y is demonstrating to World Youth Day organizers in Sydney why they weren't called Generation RSVP, says the coordinator of the event. Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney told ZENIT today that thousands of unregistered pilgrims arrived to the host city on the opening day of World Youth Day, providing an extra challenge for the organizers to accommodate the unexpected overflow.Thousands stood in line Tuesday at registration stands in Hyde Park, Circular Quay and Broadway. World Youth Day began today in Sydney, and will culminate on Sunday with an open-air Mass presided over by Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse.
Some 500,000 are expected to attend the closing liturgy."This is not Generation RSVP," said the bishop, "this is Generation Y, and they just arrive and decide to register on the spot, and we're getting them in the thousands."He said that over 100,000 international pilgrims have already arrived, and that organizers are confident of achieving their goal of having 100,000 Australian pilgrims, including 40,000 Sydney residents."Some of them we didn't know about; they've been arriving unregistered and we're past maximum capacity, but we're doing everything we can to make sure they get into all the events, get transport passes and accommodation and food," said Bishop Fisher, the youngest bishop in Australia.
24-year-old Sabrina Dias from Mexico was one among those registering late. She said she is in Australia visiting her family, and she "happened to be here at the same time.""It's an opportunity not to be missed," she added.Street party"Look at the streets of Sydney," Bishop Fisher said. "We've never had this before. […] We've never had this many young people full of the faith, of idealism, of enthusiasm for Jesus Christ, his Church and the future of our world."He added that Sydney is the first World Youth Day where that has been a large participation from the Pacific.
In Cologne 2005 there were 100 pilgrims from New Zealand, 10 from Papua New Guinea and less than 100 from the rest of the Pacific.This year there are 4,500 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Papua New Guinea and up to 1,000 from each of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and other small island nations, the bishop reported.The youth day organizer explained that this was due to the contribution of local parishes and schools to the fairs of the poor Pacific Islands. A contingent from East Timor was also made possible through local fundraising efforts.
Dressed in traditional tapa wraps in colors designed specifically for his parish group, Tonga Rui of Tonga told ZENIT he is excited "at how World Youth Day has been able to unite so many of the Oceanic region."Bishop Fisher added that the indigenous participation attending the youth event will also be "way out of proportion to their population numbers" due to the support from local communities.Aboriginal performers are headlining key events throughout the week, as are those from the oceanic islands.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
As he began the longest foreign trip of his papacy, he said paedophilia was "incompatible" with being a priest.
Australian abuse victims have said they will hold protests during his visit.
Climate change will also be a leading theme at a major Catholic youth festival, World Youth Day, which the Pope is heading in Sydney.
The event is expected to draw some 200,000 young Catholics to the city.
But the six-day event has been overshadowed by the launch of an investigation into sexual abuse allegations.
The leader of Australia's Catholics, Cardinal George Pell, has come under criticism for his handling of a 1982 case allegedly involving the sexual abuse of 29-year-old man by a priest.
The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says that many victims want the Pope to directly criticise the Australian Catholic hierarchy for its handling of abuse allegations.
A German research foundation reports that, contrary to popular belief, teenagers and young adults are interested in religion.The German Bertelsmann Foundation announced Wednesday that a study on religion and religious practices worldwide found that 85% of young adults between 18 and 29 are religious, and 44% are deeply religious.Only 13% have no appreciation for God or faith in general."The assumption that religious belief is dwindling continuously from generation to generation is clearly refuted by our worldwide surveys -- even in many industrialized nations," Dr. Martin Rieger, project leader of the Bertelsmann Foundation's Religion Monitor, concluded in a press statement.
The study, which surveyed 21,000 individuals from 21 nations, noted important differences among cultures. For example, young adults in Islamic states and developing countries are deeply religious, while young Christians in Europe are comparatively unreligious.
Among Catholics in particular, the proportion of deeply religious Catholics in Europe is 25% percent, while outside Europe this figure is 68%.Most of the youth of Eastern Europe and Russia have not been baptized, and most young people have no connection at all to faith and the Church. Only 13% are deeply religious.ExceptionThe study noted that a great exception among the Western industrialized countries is the United States, where 54% of the young adults polled said they considered themselves deeply religious.The study also revealed that 35% of the young adults surveyed worldwide who regard themselves as not belonging to a denomination, nonetheless identified themselves as religious.Religious practices also differed among cultures.
For youth in developing countries such as Nigeria and Guatemala, 90% reported praying at least once a day, and 75% of the respondents in countries such as India, Morocco and Turkey do likewise.In contrast, daily prayer is no longer common practice among young Europeans. In France, just 9% of young adults pray daily, in Russia the figure is 8%, and in Austria only around 7%.In the United States, 57% of young Americans say they pray on a daily basis.
Friday, 11 July 2008
The Quran, Surah 24: Light1. A sura which We have sent down and which We have ordained in it have We sent down Clear Signs, in order that ye may receive admonition.
2. The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.
3. Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry and but a woman similarly guilty, or an Unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman: to the Believers such a thing is forbidden.
4. And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;-
5. Unless they repent thereafter and mend (their conduct); for Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.6. And for those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have (in support) no evidence but their own,- their solitary evidence (can be received) if they bear witness four times (with an oath) by Allah that they are solemnly telling the truth;
7. And the fifth (oath) (should be) that they solemnly invoke the curse of Allah on themselves if they tell a lie.
8. But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) By Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie;
9. And the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of Allah on herself if (her accuser) is telling the truth.
By Jesús Colina
VATICAN CITY, JULY 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- For the first time since 2003, the Holy See finished in the red in 2007, marking a deficit of more that $14 million (€9 million).
The Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Questions of the Apostolic See reported the result today after meeting last Thursday and Friday in the Vatican.However, Vatican City State, separate from the Holy See, closed 2007 with a net gain of about $10.5 million (€6.7 million).The net from 2004-2006 for the Holy See was a combined $15 million in the black.The balance was presented by Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, named last April as president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. The Holy See's only direct input is donations from dioceses, religious congregations and the faithful. Its services only entail expenses.
The Roman Curia employs a total of 2,748 people (44 more than in 2006), of which 778 are ecclesiastics, 333 religious and 1,212 laymen and 425 laywomen. There are 929 retirees.
The Holy See's budget includes the expenses of apostolic nunciatures and pontifical representatives in countries and international organizations, as well as the cost of their means of communication.
Given that one of the most important losses reflected in the Holy See's balance sheet is Vatican Radio's deficit, "the Governorate of Vatican City has committed itself to help with the costs, contributing to cover half of the deficit (€12.2 million)," the statement reported.
Losses were also incurred in the publication of L'Osservatore Romano. However, other means of communication are beginning to show profit.
Positive results were reported for the Vatican Printing Press, which closed the balance sheet with a surplus of €1 million; the Vatican Television Center, with a surplus of €458,754; and the Vatican Publishing House, with earnings amounting to a total of €1.6 million.
According to the note, one of the main reasons for the Holy See's deficit last year is due to the fall in the value of the U.S. dollar. The majority of the Holy See's expenses are in euro, while the majority of the input is in dollars.
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
And Partial One for Faithful Who Pray for Sydney Event
VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is offering a plenary indulgence for those who participate in Sydney's World Youth Day this month and a partial indulgence for those who support it with their prayers.The conditions for the indulgences were made public in a statement Saturday signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.Benedict XVI will grant a plenary indulgence to faithful who "gather at Sydney, Australia, in the spirit of pilgrimage" to participate in celebrations for the 23rd World Youth Day, and partial indulgence to "all those who, wherever they are, will pray for the spiritual goals of this meeting and for its happy outcome," the decree said."
Indeed, young people gathered around the Vicar of Christ will participate in the sacred functions and above all have recourse to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist," it added. "In the sacraments received with a sincere and humble heart, they will earnestly desire to strengthen themselves in the Spirit, and, confirmed by the chrism of salvation, will openly witness the faith before others even to the ends of the earth. May God grant that the very presence of the Supreme Pontiff among the young people gathered in Sydney express and render it such."The typical conditions for indulgences must also be fulfilled.
The decree explained: "The plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who will devotedly participate at some sacred function or pious exercise taking place during the 23rd World Youth Day, including its solemn conclusion, so that, having received the sacrament of reconciliation and being truly repentant, they receive holy Communion and devoutly pray according to the intentions of His Holiness.
"The partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, wherever they are during the above-mentioned meeting, if, at least with a contrite spirit, they will raise their prayer to God the Holy Spirit, so that young people are drawn to charity and given the strength to proclaim the Gospel with their life."So that all the faithful may more easily obtain these heavenly gifts, priests who have received legitimate approval to hear sacramental confessions, should welcome them with a ready and generous spirit and suggest public prayers to the faithful, for the success of the same World Youth Day."
Saturday, 5 July 2008
The smallest planet in the Solar System has become even smaller, studies by the Messenger spacecraft have shown.
Data from a flyby of Mercury in January 2008 show the planet has contracted by more than one mile (1.5km) in diameter over its history.
Scientists believe the shrinkage is due to the planet's core slowly cooling.
Studies published in the journal Science show the same process also powers the planet's magnetic field, a topic long debated by scientists.
"Cooling of the planet's core not only fuelled the magnetic dynamo, it also led to contraction of the entire planet," said Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, US.
Today this Gospel, from Saint Matthew, seems so unlike the normal style of the Gospel according to Matthew that commentators often talk about it as more like something from the Gospel of Saint John. For us, we can note the difference and yet focus on the teaching that it brings to us. At the heart of the Gospel and at the heart of the first reading, we see God humbling Himself so that He can show His love for us. Just as the Prophet Zechariah shows us a king who is willing to be humble in order to serve his people, so also from this Prophet we come to understand that it is our God who comes to us as a humble human being in Jesus Christ.
Certainly one of the most striking elements in both the Hebrew Scriptures and in our Christian Scriptures is this understanding that God actually loves us and will find ways to reach out to us and to draw us into divine life. The Scriptures themselves we hold to be divinely inspired—and not just merely human words. Our God reaches out to us, His people, generation after generation. You and I need to recognize that this same God is reaching out to us today in these readings and in the celebration of the Eucharist. All of us have doubts at times, but if we continue to seek the Lord over many years, the doubts are even turned to wonderful belief. The first act of a believer is to invite God to deepen faith. Today we can ask our God to deepen our faith, to help us understand the ways of the Lord, to help us see with eyes of faith and hear with ears of faith.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, invites us to meditate on spirit and flesh. We have to be careful to understand what Saint Paul means and not read into this way of speaking something that is not there. For our Hebrew ancestors, we are a unity—not a duality. So to speak of spirit and flesh is not to divide us, but to understand that some aspects of our life are as yet unredeemed and other aspects are already living at peace with the Lord. For instance, if I have not yet learned how to maintain peace in an angry situation, then my own reaction of anger can be seen as the flesh. If I have not yet learned how to maintain silence and control my tongue when others gossip, then my gossiping can be seen as of the flesh.
If I have not yet learned to respect the property or goods of others in my life, then my taking the property or goods of others can be called flesh. To live in the spirit means to live in Christ and to respond to each situation with grace and virtue. We can see clearly why our God must humble Himself to come among us! We all have aspects of our lives that can be called flesh and we are not yet completely living in the mystery of God. May our humble God come to us today and show us His way of peace and virtue. May His Holy Spirit transform us. May we give praise to our loving God by the way we live.
Saturday, 05 July 2008
A SIKH group in Malaysia is demanding the right to use the world 'Allah' as a synonym for God and has joined a legal battle by Christians against a government order banning non-Muslims from using it.
The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Tuesday seeking to join a suit by The Herald, a Roman Catholic newspaper, against the government over the use of the word 'Allah', said council president Sardar Jagir Singh.
The Home Ministry previously ordered the newspaper not to use the word 'Allah' in its Malay-language publication as a translation for God, saying it would confuse Muslims. The Herald then filed the suit, claiming it had a right to use the term.
Mr Jagir said his council, representing more than 100,000 Sikhs, wanted to join the suit because the ruling would affect them too.
The word 'Allah' appears on 'numerous occasions' in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, he said. 'Not a word can be altered. It's our holiest book...it will mean we can't practise our own religion.'
Mr Jagir said he has not received a court date for the suit yet.
The High Court is scheduled to hear, next Wednesday, the applications of several Islamic institutions that have applied to intervene in the suit to defend the ban.
The Herald - which publishes in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil - says 'Allah' is an Arabic word that predates Islam and has been used for centuries to mean 'God' in Malay.
The government has not explained how the use of 'Allah' by other religions would confuse Muslims, but apparently wants to draw a sharp distinction between God in the Islamic faith from other faiths.
The case is one in an increasing series of complaints by religious minorities in Malaysia that their rights have been undermined by government efforts to bolster the status of Islam, the country's official religion.
In a separate case, the Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo has filed a lawsuit in an effort to be allowed to use the word 'Allah' after officials last year banned the import of books containing the word.
Hearings in that case are still in the preliminary stages.
CARACAS, Venezuela, JULY 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The "Reformed Catholic Church" in Venezuela is not recognized in any way by the Catholic Church and the faithful are being urged not to associate themselves with it.
The group presented itself in Venezuela two weeks ago. It was started by former Lutherans, Anglicans and Catholics, including two priests who Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino described as "in bad canonical situations." The members profess support for President Hugo Chávez.
The Anglican Communion also issued a communiqué stating that they do not recognize the group.
Archbishop Ubaldo Santana Sequera of Maracaibo, president of the Venezuelan episcopal conference, expressed his opposition to the use of the word "catholic" by the group.
In statements to "El Universal" newspaper, Archbishop Santana said that "anyone can express his or her religious proposal; what seems to me to be a usurpation is the use of the word Catholic in the title."
The Archdiocese of Maracaibo issued a communiqué stating that "this new religious group presumes to establish itself as an alternative to the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church, at the same time using the same symbols, vestments, nomenclature, titles and sacramental and liturgical services as the Catholic Church. They also presume to call themselves Catholics without being united by obedience either to the Pope or to the Catholic hierarchy, even encouraging the ordination of new bishops without the express mandate of the Roman Pontiff."
The archbishop and his auxiliary bishop urged the faithful to "remain alert so as not to allow themselves to be divided or dragged into religious confrontations, to work to strengthen the internal unity of the Catholic Church, and to foster a climate of respect and coexistence among all Venezuelans."
Friday, 4 July 2008
Cardinal Kasper Notes Aspect to Learn From Apostle
VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- St. Paul was not only a zealous preacher of Christianity but also a man open to dialogue with those who do not know Christ, affirmed the president of the pontifical council dedicated to Christian unity.Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke with L'Osservatore Romano last week about the apostle to the Gentiles on the occasion of the newly inaugurated Pauline Jubilee Year.He started with a biographical sketch of St. Paul, noting that he was in prison many times, beaten and in danger of death. Five times he suffered 39 lashes, was scourged three times, stoned once, shipwrecked, endured hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, slander, persecution and finally decapitation by the sword.How did he endure all this, the cardinal asked. He affirmed that the answer was given by Paul, himself: "By the grace of God I am what I am." And "I can do all things in him who strengthens me."
"[Here] we touch upon the central point of [Paul's] life and faith," Cardinal Kasper affirmed. "He attributed nothing to his own merit; but believed that everything was owed to God and his grace. God was the power and strength of his life."The Vatican official proposed that Paul's message is, in fact, "the message of grace.""We have courage and dignity, salvation and holiness only from God and his grace," he explained. "We cannot save ourselves through good works. Salvation is given to us because of our faith. This grace is offered to each one of us. With God's grace, a new beginning is always possible."ConvertedCardinal Kasper reflected on the key event in Paul's life, his conversion on the road to Damascus."That experience made such an impression on him that he forgot all his past, projecting himself with determination towards the future," he said. "For Paul, the Gospel was not an abstract doctrine but a person: Jesus Christ.
"God is not far away. […] He is God for us, close to us and with us. He humbled himself and lowered himself in Jesus Christ. If God has resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead, he will also resurrect us. Hence, in every suffering and every sorrow, in all of life's adversities, hope will shine for us even beyond death."
Such a message, the cardinal added, is "joyful but also exacting." He explained: "We must always be oriented to Jesus Christ, to his example, life and word. We must always be converted again, allow ourselves to be taken by him and to follow him. Jesus Christ is the fulcrum of the Christian faith; he is its identity and characteristic. "Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God distinguishes us from the Muslims. We must not hide our faith, but witness to it courageously as Paul did. This is realized not only with words, but above all through a convincing life of faith, through affability, availability, benevolence, goodness and active charity."Rooted in Turkey Cardinal Kasper focused on another of Paul's characteristics: his dedication to dialogue."Paul was an ardent witness of Christ and, at the same time, a man of dialogue," the cardinal said, citing an affirmation from the Turkish bishops in their pastoral letter for the Pauline year.
And he noted Paul's familiarity with the Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures, that he spoke Aramaic and Greek. On referring to other religions in the Areopagus of Athens, Paul quoted their own poets, saying God "is not far from any one of us. For 'in him we live and move and have our being.'"In this connection, Cardinal Kasper recalled that "Vatican Council II made this exhortation its own and stated that the Catholic Church 'does not reject anything that is true and holy' in other religions. The Council spoke of respect for Muslims, appealing for collaboration with them when it comes to protecting and promoting social justice, moral values, peace and liberty for all men."
To dialogue "does not mean to leave one's own faith aside, or to make a flexible adaptation," he clarified. "It is about giving reasons for the faith with all due amiability and patience. To explain what, how and why we believe. To be witnesses of the faith in an active way."The Vatican official noted that St. Paul is a teacher in this type of dialogue. "Thanks to him, the Church has become universal," he noted.And mentioning Paul's roots in Turkey, the cardinal observed: "Christians in Turkey are a small flock that does not always have an easy life, but they form part of a great universal community of believers. The whole Church has one of its roots in Tarsus and Turkey. That is why the universal Church can never forget the Christians in Turkey."
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Begins Wednesday Catechesis Series for Pauline Jubilee
VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2008 (Zenit.org).-
Benedict XVI says the world and culture in which St. Paul lived and preached is not so different from that of today.
The Pope affirmed this in a reflection on St. Paul at the general audience held today in St. Peter's Square. This is the last audience the Holy Father will host until mid-August. He left today for the summer papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. And later this month, he heads to Australia for World Youth Day.The Pontiff explained that today's catechesis is the first in a series of teachings for the newly inaugurated Pauline Jubilee Year, which runs through June 29, 2009."In this, our first meeting," he said, "I would like to pause to consider the environment in which he lived and worked. Such a topic would seem to take us far from our time, given that we must insert ourselves in the world of 2,000 years ago.
And yet, this is only apparently and partly true, because it can be verified that in many ways, the socio-cultural environment of today is not so different than that of back then."Benedict XVI proposed that Paul would have been evaluated by a "double attitude" in regard to his Jewish culture: There were those who admired the Jews for the way their beliefs and lifestyles set them apart from the environment, and those who disdained them for this."Paul himself was the object of this double, contrasting evaluation," the Pope said.And yet, he added, the "particularity of the Jewish culture and religion easily found a place within a reality as all-pervasive as the Roman Empire. More difficult and trying was the position of the group of those Jews and Gentiles who adhered in faith to the person of Jesus of Nazareth, insofar as they were distinguished both from Judaism and the prevailing paganism.
"3 culturesThe Pontiff noted two other factors that affected Paul's situation.First, he mentioned "the Greek, or rather the Hellenistic culture, which after Alexander the Great became the common patrimony at least of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, though integrating within itself many elements of peoples traditionally regarded as barbarians."And second, "the political-administrative structure of the Roman Empire, which guaranteed peace and stability from Britain to southern Egypt, unifying a territory of a dimension never before seen. In this space, one could move with sufficient liberty and security, enjoying among other things an extraordinary road system, and finding in every point of arrival, basic cultural characteristics that, without detriment to local values, represented in any case a common fabric of unification 'super partes.'"Hence, the Holy Father affirmed: "The universalistic vision typical of St. Paul's personality, at least of the Christian Paul after the event on the road to Damascus, certainly owes its basic impetus to faith in Jesus Christ, inasmuch as the figure of the Risen One goes beyond that of any particularistic restriction. […] Yet, the historical-cultural situation of his time and environment also influenced his choices and commitment. "Paul has been described as a "man of three cultures," taking into account his Jewish origin, Greek language, and his prerogative of "civis romanus," as attested also by his name of Latin origin."Stoics. The Bishop of Rome then focused on another element of the Pauline world that affected the apostle: "Stoic philosophy, which prevailed in Paul's time and also influenced, though marginally, Christianity."
"When Paul writes to the Philippians: 'Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,' he does no more than take up a strictly humanist concept proper to that philosophical wisdom," the Pope said.
He continued: "In Paul's time, there was also a crisis of the traditional religion, at least in its mythological and also civic aspects. After Lucretius, already a century earlier, had controversially stated that 'religion has led to so many misdeeds,' a philosopher such as Seneca, going well beyond any external ritualism, taught that 'God is close to you, he is with you, he is within you.' "Similarly, when Paul addressed an auditorium of Epicurean philosophers in the Areopagus in Athens, he says literally that 'God does not live in shrines made by man ... but in him we live and move and have our being.'"With this, he certainly echoes the Jewish faith in one God that cannot be represented in anthropomorphic terms, but he also follows a religious line with which his listeners were familiar."Furthermore, the Holy Father noted, it was not uncommon for pagan intellectuals of the time to worship not in the official temples of the city, but in private places.
In this way, Christian worship in homes "must have seemed to their contemporaries as a simple variation of this more intimate religious practice," he said.Finally, the Pope affirmed that "all of us today have much to learn" from St. Paul. "This is the objective of the Pauline Year," he said, "to learn the faith from him, to learn from him who Christ is, to learn, in the end, the path for an upright life."
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
The Vatican Publishing House has released a volume collecting the addresses in various languages from a conference held in 2004 on the 4th Crusade. That year was the 800th anniversary of the crusade that went awry. The 13th-century event is considered to have cemented the Great Schism with the Orthodox that had occurred in 1054.
The 2004 conference was organized by the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, in collaboration with the Institute of Byzantine History of the University of Athens and the Institute of Byzantine and Neo-Greek Studies of the University of Vienna.
The volume is titled "The 4th Crusade Revisited" and it has an interdisciplinary scope, including considerations of the political, anthropological and theological implications of the crusade.
Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, president of the pontifical committee, wrote in the prologue that the volume was edited with the intention of "contributing to the completion of the historians' great project and to the purification of memory, which has been indicated by the path that has to lead to the coexistence of men, nations and religions, characterized by reciprocal understanding and benevolence."
He said the congress welcomed the invitation of the Pope, convinced that a "serious and impartial writing of history" without prejudices and based in "rigorous historical method" would be an indispensable tool in reaching this goal.
The volume brings together texts prepared by people of various nations and religious creeds, seeking what they call the step from suspicion to truth in charity.
- Benedict XVI's missionary prayer intention for July is for the success of the World Youth Day in Sydney this month.The Apostleship of Prayer announced the general intention chosen by the Pope, "That there may be an increase in the number of those who, as volunteers, offer their services to the Christian community with generous and prompt availability."The Holy Father also chooses a missionary intention for each month. In July he will pray, "That the World Youth Day held in Sydney, Australia, may awaken the fire of divine love in young people and make them sowers of hope for a new humanity."
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Looks at 3 Fundamental Elements in Apostle's Teaching
ROME, JUNE 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- St. Paul is not a mere historical figure, but someone who has a message for us today, says Benedict XVI.The Pope affirmed this at the solemn inauguration of the Pauline Jubilee Year, which began with Saturday evening's vespers, held at St. Paul's Outside the Walls. The jubilee runs through June 29, 2009."We have come together not to reflect on a past history, irrevocably surpassed. Paul wants to speak with us today," the Holy Father said in his homily. "That is why I wanted to convoke this special 'Pauline year': to listen to him and to drink from him, as our teacher, in the faith and truth, in which are rooted the reasons for unity among the disciples of Christ.
"We are gathered, therefore, to question ourselves about the great apostle of the Gentiles. Not only do we ask ourselves, 'Who was Paul?' Above all, we ask ourselves 'Who is Paul?' 'What is he saying to me?'"The Pontiff then proposed three texts from Pauline letters to look at Paul's "inner physiognomy […] that which is specific about his character."Beloved by ChristThe first passage cited by the Pope was Paul's profession of faith in the Letter to the Galatians: "I live in the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me." "All that Paul does starts from this center," the Holy Father explained. "His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a totally personal way; it is awareness of the fact that Christ faced death not for something anonymous, but for love of him, of Paul, and that, risen, Christ still loves him, has given himself for him. "His faith is having been captured by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that affects him in his innermost being and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an option about God or the world. His faith is the impact of the love of God on his heart. So, this faith itself is love of Jesus Christ."This faith and love, the Bishop of Rome continued, were linked to truth.
"The truth was too great for [Paul] to be ready to sacrifice it in view of an external success," he said. "The truth he had experienced in his encounter with the Risen One merited for him struggle, persecution and suffering. However, what motivated him in the depth of his being was being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to transmit this love to others. Paul was someone able to love, and all his work and suffering is explained from this center."With this foundation, the Holy Father suggested, it is easy to understand the concepts in the Pauline proclamation. He used as an example one of Paul's key words, freedom."The experience of being loved to the end by Christ opened [Paul's] eyes about truth and the path of human existence; that experience embraced everything," he said. "Paul was free as a man loved by God that, in virtue of God, was able to love together with him. This love is now the 'law' of his life and, precisely thus, was the freedom of his life.
He speaks and acts, moved by the responsibility of love; he is free, and given that he is one who loves, he lives totally in the responsibility of this love and does not take freedom as a pretext for pleasure and egoism." Identified with Church Benedict XVI offered as a second text Paul's conviction about Christ being identified with the Church, a conviction that arose from his conversion experience on the road to Damascus.The Holy Father recalled how Paul responded to the voice that asked him, "Why do you persecute me?" with the question, "Who are you, Lord?""And he received the reply: 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.' By persecuting the Church," the Pope said, "Paul was persecuting Jesus himself. 'You are persecuting me.'"He explained: "Jesus identifies himself with the Church in a single subject.
In this exclamation of the Risen One -- which transformed Saul's life -- is contained the whole doctrine of the Church as Body of Christ. […] The Church is not an association that wishes to promote a certain cause. It is not about a cause. It is about the person of Jesus Christ. […] He is personally present in the Church. 'Head and Body' form a single subject, said Augustine."So Christ becomes one spirit with his own, one subject in the new world of the resurrection. In all this, the Eucharistic mystery is visualized, in which Christ constantly gives his Body and makes of us one Body."The Pontiff said that now, Paul and Christ address us with the question, "'How were you able to lacerate my Body?' Before the face of Christ, this question becomes at the same time an urgent appeal: Bring us together again from all our divisions. Make this again a reality today: There is only one bread; therefore, we, despite being many, are only one body."Ready to sufferFinally, Benedict XVI offered as a third citation one of St. Paul's last exhortations, written from prison where he was facing death: "Endure with me sufferings for the Gospel.""The task of proclamation and the call to suffering for Christ are inseparably together," the Pope affirmed.
"The call to be teacher of the Gentiles is at the same time and intrinsically a call to suffering in communion with Christ, who has redeemed us through his passion. "In a world in which lying is powerful, truth is paid for with suffering. He who wishes to avoid suffering, to keep it far from himself, will have pushed away life itself and its grandeur. […] There is no love without suffering, without the suffering of denying ourselves, of the transformation and purification of the 'I' for true freedom. "Wherever there is nothing worth suffering for, life itself also loses its value. The Eucharist -- center of our Christian being -- is based on the sacrifice of Jesus for us; it was born from the suffering of the love that found its culmination on the cross.
We live from this love that gives itself. This gives us the courage and strength to suffer with Christ and for him, thus knowing that precisely in this way our life becomes great, mature and true."It was Paul's suffering that make him "credible as teacher of truth," the Holy Father proposed. And he concluded with a prayer: "At this hour in which we thank the Lord for having called Paul, making him the light of the Gentiles and teacher of us all, we pray: Give us also today the testimony of the Resurrection, touched by your love, and [make us] able to carry the light of the Gospel in our time. St. Paul, pray for us. Amen."
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave Sunday after celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and before praying the Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.
* * *Dear Brothers and Sisters,This year the feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul occurs on a Sunday, thus, the whole Church, and not only the Church of Rome, celebrates it in a solemn way.This coincidence is also propitious insofar as it further highlights an extraordinary event: the Pauline Year, which I officially opened last night at the tomb of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and which will last until June 29, 2009.Historians in fact situate the birth of Saul -- who later became Paul -- about 7 to 10 years after Christ’s. Thus, after the passage of about 2,000 years, I wanted to call this special jubilee, which will naturally have Rome as its center, especially the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the place of martyrdom at Tre Fontane.
But it will involve the whole Church, beginning with Tarsus, Paul’s city of birth, and the other Pauline places in present day Turkey and the Holy Land, which are pilgrimage destinations, as well as the island of Malta, where the apostle came after a shipwreck and sowed the fruitful seed of the Gospel.In reality, the horizon of the Pauline Year cannot but be universal because St. Paul was, par excellence, the apostle of those who, in regard to the Jews, were “distant,” and who, “thanks to the blood of Christ,” were drawn “near” (Ephesians 2:13). For this reason, today too, in a world that has become “small,” but where many have not yet met the Lord Jesus, the jubilee of St. Paul invites all Christians to be missionaries of the Gospel.This missionary dimension must always be accompanied by that of unity, represented by St. Peter, the “rock” on which Jesus Christ built his Church. As is underscored by the liturgy, the charisms of the two great apostles are complementary in building up the one people of God and Christians cannot offer a valid witness to Christ if they are not united.
The theme of unity is highlighted today by the traditional rite of the pallium, which I bestowed upon the metropolitan archbishops who were named this past year. There are 40, and 2 others will receive the pallium in their Sees. Again I greet them too.Today’s solemnity is further a special cause of joy for the Bishop of Rome inasmuch as he welcomes the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in the dear person of His Holiness Bartholomew I, to whom I renew my fraternal greeting, extending it to the entire delegation of the Orthodox Church that he leads.The Pauline Year, evangelization, communion in the Church and full unity among Christians: Let us now pray for these great intentions, entrusting them to the celestial intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles.[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic][The Holy Father then greeted the pilgrims in various languages.
In English, he said:]I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. In a special way I greet the Metropolitan Archbishops who have received the pallium, accompanied by their relatives and friends on this Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. May the courageous example of these Holy Patrons inspire the Archbishops as they preach the saving word of God. I am also pleased to extend warm greetings to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I, and to the members of his delegation. Through the intercession of the Apostles Peter and Paul, may all Christians bear clear witness to the truth and the love that sets us free. God bless you all!
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