Church in India marks day of prayer for creation

Nirmala Carvalho

Indian Cardinal Telesphore Toppo said “tribal Catholics in India have impressed in their hearts that they are God‘s people and the children of Mother Earth, a people with its own voice, its own dignity and its own security.” He was one of several Indian bishops who marked the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation – celebrated on September 1.

MUMBAI, India – Tribal cultures in India respect nature, and celebrate her gifts, according to the first Indian Cardinal from a tribal background.

Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, said “to be true witnesses of Christ, we must respond to the ecological crisis through a deep spiritual conversion, which necessarily implies a sensitivity to the tribal and the most marginalized parts of society: migrants, landless peasants and day laborers.” Continue reading

Some U.S. experts think Pope, Patriarch may want Trump’s attention

Christopher White

U.S. Catholic climate leaders say that Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew‘s joint statement on the environment are a veiled criticism at the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. The document, they argue, offers both pastoral and practical wisdom for Christian communities to work together for a greater care of creation.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew’s joint message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation comes just three months after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and some experts suspect the two developments may be related.

Earlier this week, Francis said he and Bartholomew are inviting everyone “to take an attitude of respect and responsibility towards creation,” though the statement concludes with a direct plea to world leaders.

“We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation,” they wrote.

Continue reading

Pope, Patriarch: ‘Cry of the earth’ and cry of the poor are one voice

Inés San Martín

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew released a joint statement to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Sept. 1. They both say that they’re convinced there’s no sincere and enduring solution to the ongoing ecological crisis unless “the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.”

ROME – In a joint statement from Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Sept. 1, the two said that what’s happening in the world today reveals a “morally decaying scenario, where our attitude and behavior towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators.”

They call on those “in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth, and to attend to the needs of the marginalized.”

Those leaders, Francis and Bartholomew write, are called to “respond to the plea” of millions, and support “the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation.” Continue reading

U.S. Catholics and Protestants agree: 500 years after Reformation, they have more in common than not

Emily McFarlan Miller

According to a new survey, more Protestants reported they believe salvation comes through a mix of faith and good works (52 percent) — the traditionally Catholic position — than through “faith alone” (46 percent). That belief — “sola fide” in Latin — is one of five “solas” that form the backbone of Protestant Reformers’ beliefs.

The theological differences that led to the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago have dwindled since in both the United States and Western Europe.

That’s the finding of a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday (Aug. 31), weeks before late October’s 500th anniversary of the schism in western Christianity.

Among U.S. Protestants, many seem unaware of the differences, voicing beliefs today that are more traditionally Catholic than they are Protestant.

“I think it’s fair to say the differences between the two groups have diminished to a degree that might have shocked Christians of earlier centuries,” said Greg Smith, associate director of research at Pew Research Center.

“Maybe it’s not a huge surprise in the context of modern-day United States, but if you look back at the longer term – at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – that would be quite surprising to a Christian of 300, 400, 500 years ago.” Continue reading

Texas Governor Abbott Declares Sunday a Day of Prayer

WHEREAS, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast on Friday, August 25, 2017, causing massive destruction along the Coastal Bend before moving up the Texas coast into Central and Southeast Texas resulting in unprecedented flooding and tragic loss of life; and

WHEREAS, Texans have remained strong throughout this ordeal, with neighbor helping neighbor by wading into the flood waters or sorting through wind damage to rescue fellow Texans; and

WHEREAS, the people of Texas are grateful for the outpouring of support and resources from around the country and around the world that have been sent to Texas to assist with the damage as we begin the process of healing and rebuilding; and

WHEREAS, throughout our history, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; and

WHEREAS, it is right and fitting that the people of Texas should join with their fellow residents and with others from across the country and around the world to seek God’s wisdom for ourselves and our leaders and ask for His merciful intervention and healing in this time of crisis;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GREG ABBOTT, Governor of Texas, pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim Sunday, September 3, 2017, as a Day of Prayer in Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers on that day for the safety of our first responders, public safety officers, and military personnel, healing of individuals, rebuilding of communities and the restoration of the entire region struck by this disaster.


China bans children from attending church services as it continues a crackdown on religious practices

Sophie Williams
The Daily Mail

Authorities in China have tightened their grip on the country’s churches by ordering that children are to be banned from joining religious groups. 

The ban also prohibits children from attending religious sermons and other activities in several provinces across the country. 

Control on the country’s churches began several years ago when places of worship were ordered to remove crosses from their buildings in Zhejiang provinceContinue reading

Melania will be first White House Catholic since Kennedy

Daily Mail


Melania Trump recited The Lord’s Prayer before a Melbourne, Florida presidential rally in February, the Internet went hog wild.

Now we know one reason why the first lady began with ‘Let us pray’ and ‘Our Father who art in heaven‘ when she introduced the president that evening: She’s a practicing Roman Catholic.

Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham confirmed that to on Wednesday, hours after Pope Francis blessed a rosary for her at the Vatican.

The last Catholics to live in the White House were John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Melania and her son Barron will move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the summer.

Mrs. Trump did more than just show up for a Papal audience.

She spent time in prayer at the Vatican-affiliated Bambino Gesù (Baby Jesus) Hospital, and laid flowers at the feet of a statue of the Madonna.

She also prayed in the hospital chapel and read to a young Greek boy in need of a donor heart – holding his hand in the Intensive Care Unit while camera shutters snapped.

The almighty may have heard her.

‘Upon landing in Belgium, I learned a young boy and his family who had been waiting for a heart transplant was informed that the hospital has found a donor,’ she said in a statement.

‘I read a book and held hands with this special little one just a few hours ago, and now my own heart is filled with joy over this news.’

The first lady later tweeted about the development with the hashtags ‘#Blessings’ and ‘#Faith.’

In another tweet, she sent ‘blessings to all’ after her Papal audience.

Mrs. Trump told Pope Francis at the Vatican that she was looking forward to going to the hospital ‘for the bambinos.’ She later called the visit ‘very moving.’

‘To spend time speaking to and coloring with children who have such a positive spirit despite illness was an amazing gift,’ she said.

‘The time I spent with the little ones in the Intensive Care Unit is something I will never forget, and I will pray for each of them daily.’

It’s unclear when Mrs. Trump became a Catholic. The president is a life-long Presbyterian, and they were married in a Florida Episcopal church.

Growing up as the daughter of a Communist Party member in rural Slovenia, her family maintained the outward appearances of being atheists, according to people in her childhood village of Sevnica who spoke to in late 2015.

Accordingly, Melania and her sister were not baptized and did not make their First Holy Communion with other children their age.

It’s still not clear when Mrs. Trump was baptized into the Catholic faith. Grisham did not immediately respond to a question about that detail.

But the Trumps have been in a reflective religious mood since arriving in Saudi Arabia last Saturday. That frame of mind persisted throughout their time in Israel.

The president addressed 55 world leaders from Arab and other Muslim-majority nations in Riyadh, imploring them to be part of ‘a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.’

In Jerusalem he visited the famed Western Wall, slipping a written prayer between the centuries-old stones as custom permits.

He ‘marveled at the monument to God’s presence and man’s perseverance,’ he said Tuesday in a speech at the Israel Museum.

‘I was humbled to place my hand upon the wall and to pray in that holy space for wisdom from God,’ Trump told an audience of Jewish officials.

‘This city, like no other place in the world, reveals the longing of the human heart – to know and worship God.’

Trump issued a proclamation on Wednesday calling for a national ‘day of prayer for permanent peace’ on May 29, the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

‘On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights,’ he said.

‘I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer. I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance,’ Trump added.

Despite apprehension, Pope Francis and President Trump talked in a “relaxed, sincere way,” sources say

Gerard O’Connell
America Magazine

President Donald J. Trump’s private meeting with Pope Francis “went well,” informed Vatican sources told America after the visit.

The sources, who asked not to be identified, acknowledged that there had been some “apprehension” on the eve of the visit, which was reflected on Francis’ face at the beginning of his first meeting with the U.S. president. But, according to these sources, the atmosphere became more relaxed during their 30-minute face-to-face conversation behind closed doors. A warmer, friendlier and at times humorous atmosphere prevailed during the subsequent presentation of the U.S. delegation and the exchange of gifts.

“Pope Francis was happy because he and the president talked in a relaxed, sincere way on the issues that they each care deeply about. He felt the meeting went well,” one source close to the pontiff told America.

He did not identify what those issues were, but it can be deduced from the statement released by the Vatican afterward that the topics included the promotion of peace in the world, the situation in the Middle East, the persecution of Christians and the dramatic plight of migrants.

Some media have interpreted the downcast look on the pope’s face as he stood beside Mr. Trump for the group photo with the U.S. delegation as an indicator that their private meeting had not gone well or “was cold,” as some Italian press reported. But a Vatican source who was informed of what happened told America this is “a gross misinterpretation.” He attributed the look on the pope’s face to the fact that, in general, Francis does not like having to pose for photos, and his face sometimes reflects this.

Vatican sources also said that the private talks that took place in the Secretariat of State, after the papal audience, between President Trump and members of his delegation and two of Francis’ most senior collaborators, the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, went “surprisingly well” and “were much better that expected.”

Mr. Trump was accompanied by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the national security adviser, H. R. McMaster, and the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, for the 50-minute conversation behind closed doors that covered a wide range of topics at the national and international levels. According to sources, the president and his “impressive” team engaged freely with the senior Vatican officials and appeared keen to listen and to understand the Holy See’s perspective on the different issues.

The Vatican press communiqué mentioned several topics that were discussed. They included: the “good” state of bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States; “the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience”; and the hope for “serene collaboration” between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States “in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education, and assistance to immigrants.”

It said they also exchanged views on “themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.” One can safely presume that the crises in Syria and Venezuela were discussed.

The Vatican statement did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but sources believe this was also addressed because before coming to Rome, Mr. Trump held talks with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and has publicly stated his determination to do all he can to reach a lasting solution to this almost 70-year conflict—something his predecessors tried to do but failed. Sources said Vatican officials were pleased that President Trump seems committed to taking this issue into his own hands and not delegating it to others.

The question of combatting terrorism seems to have also been on the agenda following Mr. Trump’s initiatives in Saudi Arabia to get all moderate majority-Muslim states involved.

Although the Vatican statement did not list climate change among the topics discussed during the president’s discussions, Secretary of State Tillerson confirmed on the plane to Brussels that this subject was raised in the meeting at the Secretariat of State and said Cardinal Parolin had urged the United States to remain a party to the Paris climate agreement. He revealed that they had “a good exchange [on] the difficulty of balancing, addressing climate change and ensuring that you still have a thriving economy and you can still offer people jobs so they can feed their families.” He described this as “a difficult balancing act” and said, “we look forward to having further talks with them on climate policy.” A decision on the Paris treaty would be made later, Mr. Tillerson added.

From talking to several sources here, it is clear that the Vatican greatly appreciated having had this first opportunity to meet President Trump so early in his term and to discuss with him and key members of his administration issues of global importance. A “positive relationship” appears to have been started between Francis and Mr. Trump—and between the U.S. president and his advisers and top Vatican officials. Channels of communication now exist to continue the dialogue between the two sides.


Villains in Upcoming Video Game are White Christian Right-wing Extremists from Montana

Adan Salazar

A graphic for the latest installment of the video game series Far Cry indicates white Christian Americans from Montana will be the antagonists.

Far Cry 5 will tell the story of a militant Christian cult, if a piece of artwork released today by publisher Ubisoft is any indication,” reports gamer site Polygon.

A shocking promotional illustration features a group of flannel-wearing bearded rednecks sat around a table in poses similar to that of “Jesus’ Last Supper.”  Continue reading

Donald Trump, Pope Francis Meet, Vow to Fight for ‘Life, Freedom of Worship’

The Christian Post

President Donald Trump and Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis met on Wednesday at the Vatican where they spoke for 30 minutes in private, and vowed to fight together for life, peace, and freedom of worship.

“Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world,” Trump posted on Twitter following the meeting.

BBC News reported that the two world leaders held a 30-minute private meeting, with the Vatican later explaining that they talked about their shared commitment to “life, freedom of worship, and conscience,” and expressed hope that they can collaborate “in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to migrants.”

They also reportedly talked about the “promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue,” along with the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East, which are suffering at the hands of Islamic extremists. Continue reading