As US mulls Syria airstrikes, Francis calls for peace

April 13, 2018 by  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

Syria, April 12, 2018: As President Trump considers airstrikes in Syria in response to a chemical attack that killed dozens of people, including women and children, Pope Francis has called for peace in the region.

President Trump has said that he will consider initiating military action against Syria within days. The president has sent several tweets hinting at iminent military action, but on Thursday he walked these back with a tweet saying he “never said” when the United States would be attacking.

“Could be very soon or not so soon at all,” said Trump, noting that the United States has done a “great job” at removing Islamic State militants from the country.

On Tuesday, Russia vetoed a US-sponsored proposal in the United Nations, which would have launched an independent investigation into the April 7 chemical attack. The veto garnered broad condemnation from US allies.

Russia has also said that its military will retaliate for any airstrikes against Syria, meaning that US-military action could prompt a large global conflict.

Since March of 2011, Syria has been engaged in a bloody civil war, with rebel groups engaged in conflict against the Syrian army. Syria, led by President Bashar al-Assad, is allied with Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.

The situation on the ground in Syria has been disastrous for the country’s tiny Christian population. Prior to the start of the war, Christians made up about 11 percent of the population. Since then, many have been forced from their homes, particularly when the Islamic State was active in the region, and many of the country’s churches have been destroyed in the war. An estimated one-third of the country’s Christian population has fled.

However, many Christians in the country find themselves supporting Assad’s regime. In a March 2016 interview, Aleppo’s Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo said that he believed a full “80 percent” of the country’s Christians would support Assad in an election. Furthermore, the bishop said that the Syrian government was not actively persecuting Christians, and that Christians and Muslims had for years lived together peacefully prior to the start of the war.

The rebel groups fighting Assad are mostly Islamic-based and have attacked Christian villages.

There have been at least 200 reported chemical attacks in Syria, the medical care group UOSSM has reported. In April 2017, at least 70 people, including children, were reportedly killed in Syria by a deadly gas attack, reportedly perpetrated by Assad’s forces.

“The chemical attack in Syria on April 4, [2017], shocks the soul. The many innocent lives targeted by these terrible tools of war cry out for humanity’s protection,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said last year in response to that attack.

During his April 1 Urbi et Orbi message, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Syria.

“We implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war. This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course,” the pontiff said.

The pope condemned the recent chemical attack during Mass April 8 in St. Peter’s Square, saying that “nothing can justify” the use of chemical weapons on “defenseless people and populations.”

“There is no such thing as a good war and a bad war,” he said.

– cna

Third priest shot dead in DR Congo; Bishop cries out ‘We are in total chaos, abandoned by all’

April 13, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Democratic Republic of Congo, April 13, 2018: A third Roman Catholic priest has been shot dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo as tribal violence continues escalating in the country, with a bishop crying out that the people have been “abandoned by everyone.”

Agenzia Fides reported that Fr. Étienne Sengiyumva, parish priest of Kitchanga, was murdered on Sunday, not long after celebrating mass.

“Around 3 p.m., after celebrating mass in Kyahemba, a circumscription of his parish, Fr. Étienne had gathered his collaborators, when an armed man, accompanied by other people, entered the meeting room and killed the priest,” said Mgr. Théophile Kaboy Ruboneka, bishop of Goma, capital of North Kivu.

Mgr. Louis de Gonzague Nzabanita Sebakara, vicar general of Goma, said the Maï-Maï Nyatura militant group is behind the killing, though Ruboneka told Fides that “it is difficult to say who was responsible of this terrible act.”

“There are different armed groups in our region, at least 15, which cannot be dismantled despite the presence of the regular army and the Blue Helmets of MONUSCO,” he added, referring to the United Nations Mission in the DRC.

The Goma bishop said that three priests have now been killed in the area, expressing his frustrations that investigations into the attackers come up empty-handed.

“On our behalf, we will do everything to identify Fr. Étienne’s murderers. In these cases, the witnesses fear for their lives and that of their loved ones and hardly offer useful information,” he said.

Ruboneka pointed out that so many armed groups are battling one another in the region that it’s difficult to discern who is carrying out the killings.

“Here in North Kivu we live in total chaos. The situation in my diocese of Goma, like that of Butembo-Beni, is incredible. We are completely abandoned by everyone; we live only thanks to Providence. I ask the faithful of the universal Church to pray for our region so that they can rediscover peace,” he pleaded.

Another priest, Father Celestin Nagango, was kidnapped from his church in eastern Congo by armed men earlier this month.

The National Episcopal Conference of Congo said last week that the unknown assailants are asking a very high sum for the clergyman.

“His kidnappers have contacted the St. Paul of Karambi parish to demand $500,000 in ransom for his release,” the church officials explained.

AFP added that two Catholic priests, the Rev. Charles Kapasa and the Rev. Jean Pierre Akilimali, who were both kidnapped from the Parish of Notre Dame in the Butembo-Beni Diocese in July 2016, haven’t been seen since.

Still missing are three other priests from the Assumptionist Order, who were taken in October 2012.

Catholic relief groups, such as Caritas Congo, have warned that a “truly disastrous humanitarian emergency” is unfolding, especially in the Kasai region of the country.

Jean-Pierre Pokavu of Caritas Congo said back in February that as many as 3 million people are in urgent need of help, with stories emerging of a number of Christians whose family members have been murdered.

Believers have been targeted and killed when caught up in the web of ethnic and political violence, stemming largely from the war between the government of President Joseph Kabila and opposition forces.

The conflict has left entire villages burned down, with homes, hospitals and schools destroyed as well.

– christian post

More Indian or more Christian?

April 13, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, April 13, 2018: Just like Indian Muslims, Christians in the country are also victims of a persistent questioning of their patriotism.

While suspicion of Christian groups has existed since the formation of the Indian state in 1947, this issue has gained in dimension with the election to power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has support from Hindu groups working to make India a Hindu nation.

The BJP’s electoral victory in 2014 has not only emboldened Hindu nationalist groups to dismiss as unpatriotic all actions and ideas that fail to conform to the aims of Hindu nationalist groups but has also led to increasing anti-Catholic violence, particularly in central India.

It seems this crisis facing Christians was very much on the mind of Cardinal Oswald Gracias when speaking at the conference of Latin rite bishops in Bangalore in February. He reportedly told the gathering: “The Catholic Church needs our nation, and India needs the church … We will be asking our people also to become better Indian Christians. This is the call of today to be fully Indian, fully Christian.”

In making such statements, bishops are making a profound analytical mistake not dissimilar to that made by the European Jews from the mid-18th century onwards.

Assuming that it was their external difference from Christian Europeans that was the reason for anti-Semitic hostility, sections of the Jews began to give up their distinctive dress, customs and sometimes religion to try and fit into the mainstream.

As the tragic consequences of World War II demonstrate, this did not stop them from being demonized across Europe and eventually meeting their end largely through the efforts of Nazi Germany. A similar mistake by the Catholic leadership in India could have serious consequences for Christians across the country.

The call to be “fully Indian, fully Christian” offers two suggestions. First, that Indian Christians are not as yet fully Indian, and secondly, that it is possible to identify what it means to be fully Indian and then meet those goals.

The first suggestion in fact plays directly into the hands of Hindu nationalists of all shades who suggest either explicitly or subtly that, given Christianity’s foreign origins, Christians in India are not authentically Indian. That this claim is recognized by Christians themselves can be seen in a variety of cultural interventions that purport to be forms of inculturation.

Let us not forget that the attempt to become “Hindu-Christian” by some theologians is in fact identical to the requirement that Hindu groups place on Muslims and Christians in India — that they be Hindu-Muslims and Hindu-Christians, positing Hinduism (understood exclusively in its upper-caste Brahmanical forms) as the base culture of India.

The second suggestion requires more work. The recommendation that Catholics in India should be more Indian and more Christian seems to suggest that Indian-ness is capable of being objectively determined. This is not a sound appreciation of reality.

There is a mountain of scientific research that points to the fact that the unspoken ideal subject of Indian nationalism is the upper-caste (north) Indian Hindu male. Such research points out how even Jawaharlal Nehru’s writings demonstrate an unconscious bias of Hindu-ness as the underlying theme of Indian-ness. It is these men, regardless of whether they are Hindu nationalists or secular Hindus, who define, and have been defining, what Indian-ness means.

Bluntly put, given that Christians in India are not in the position of defining what Indian-ness means, there is simply no way in which we will ever be able to approximate the ideals of Indian-ness set by Indian nationalists of any hue.

What killed the Jews of Europe is similar to what threatens all non-Hindu communities in India today: the growth of nationalism.

The problem with most popular analyses of nationalism is that they do not recognize the difference between concepts of the nation and the state. The distinction between the two is perhaps best captured in Hannah Arendt’s pithy observation of “the conquest of the state by the nation.” In her view, nationalism transformed the modern state from an organ that would execute the rule of law for all its citizens and residents into the nation-state, an instrument of the nation alone.

Modern nationalism is inherently a divisive force, identifying religion, ethnicity or language as the basis of the nation, and in this process inevitably excluding groups within the state or creating hatred of those outside it.

Smaller social groups do not naturally exist as minorities; they are actively created or made minorities through conscious exclusion. That this exclusion is an inevitable aspect of nationalism is made obvious by the fact that the only way secular liberal nationalists across the world can think of the relationship with minority groups is that of tolerance. Not love but tolerance.

In many ways, nationalism is a theology that articulates a mystical relationship between the national-citizen and the nation constructed as a deity. It is when we recognize the theological nature of modern nationalism and the nation-state that perhaps we will become aware that there cannot be a compromise between nationalism and the Christian calling.

In this context, Archbishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan of Gandhinagar was right in the phrasing of the pastoral letter for which he was pilloried. Catholics have a religious obligation to ensure that nationalists do not take over the state.

Fortunately, Catholics in India are not being asked to make a dramatic choice. The Christian call to universalism, one that recognizes neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal 3:28), can ensure that Christians are more than able to participate to the benefit of the state but refuse to cooperate in the sectarian projects of contemporary nationalism.

There is of course no need for Catholic leaders in India to actively proclaim a refusal to participate in nationalist projects; this would be a foolhardy venture in the current climate. But there is similarly no need for us to contribute to nationalist rhetoric by asking that we become more Indian.

Our call is to be more Christian, loving all without distinction.

– ucan

Indian religious leaders pledge to check hate

April 13, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Bhopal, April 13, 2018: More than 1,500 religious leaders in India concluded a two-day conclave resolving to reach out to the masses with true teachings of their faiths to check increasing religion-based hatred and violence.

Representatives of various sects of the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religions and sexual minorities attended the event on April 11-12 in Indore. It was jointly organized by three organizations working for religious harmony.

“We see a rise in sectarian violence in the country and have yet to find a solution. Those spreading violence are not religious people. They do not understand the tenets of their religion,” said Adil Sayeed, one of the organizers.

He said people spread hate about religions for political reasons and personal profit. “These people pick up teachings and traditions that suit them to spread hatred, and simple ordinary people fall for such distorted teachings. This leads to religious intolerance,” he said.

Sayeed said participants unanimously agreed to teach their followers the authentic spirit of their religions as no religion advocates hate and violence as the path of spiritual progress.

India has been witnessing increased religious polarization since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. It projected itself as the champion of Hindus, bolstering Hindu groups to accelerate their action to turn India into a Hindu-only nation.

Religious minorities like Christians and Muslims have been complaining of increased violence against their people. At least 10 Muslim men have been lynched and many injured by vigilante cow protection groups, many of which seemed to operate with the support of the BJP, rights group Amnesty India said in a report early this year.

Persecution Relief recorded 736 attacks against Christians in 2017, up from 348 in 2016.

Christians were often attacked after being accused of converting Hindus. The issue was addressed in the conclave by Reverend Jacob Corepiscopa, a priest of the Kerala-based Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church who now works in central India.

He explained to the gathering that no true Christian will “force anyone to become Christian. Our charitable works are also not for religious conversion. This is the way we share our Christian love with others. Such things are misrepresented as efforts to religious conversion,” said the priest.

Some 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people are Hindus but Muslims number some 14 percent or 180 million, making them the largest religious minority. Although Christians comprise just 2.3 percent, they are the third-largest minority.

As the country braces for its next parliamentary election in the first quarter of 2019, political parties have begun to project themselves as protectors of religious and caste interests in their effort to garner votes.

Hindu ascetic Sadhvi Pragya Bharati said Hinduism has “special love and respect for women” and “space to include everyone.”

“We name our rivers after women, the goddess of wisdom is named after a woman and even the great war depicted in the epic Mahabharata was for protecting the dignity of a woman,” she said without mentioning the recent rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl by Hindus in Jammu in an alleged revenge attack against Muslims.

Muslim leader Sayyid Ali Muhammad Naqvi said religious leaders who should be speaking against hatred are sometimes hypocritical by failing to condemn violence perpetuated in the name of their religion.

Transgender representative Mahamandleshwar Laxminarayan Tripathy said religions have exploited people with their male domination. “Those acting as leaders are trying to impose religion on others as they perceive it rather than imbibing its real spirit. This misrepresentation leads to chaos,” she said.

– ucan

Report on dalit discrimination in Sivaganga

April 13, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Chennai, April 13, 2018: A public hearing report released on April 9 has listed discriminatory practices against Dalits, ranging from denial of priesthood to preventing equal job opportunities, prevalent in Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga diocese.

The report titled ‘Dalit Christians Crucified’ was compiled by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front.

“It was news for me. I have known Christianity as an institution that doesn’t support discrimination,” said D Hariparanthaman, retired Madras high court judge, who was a jurist in the public hearing held in March 2017.

For instance, the report cited the existence of different chapels within the same substation under a parish, each catering to different communities.

One chapel would serve the dominant community (udayars and vellalars), whom the report refers to as “caste Christians”, and the other chapel would cater to dalits converted to Christianity (pallars, parayars and kadayars). “From a mere look of a chapel in a village, one would come to the conclusion as to whether it belongs to Caste Christians or dalit Christians,” the report said.

“Different chapels exhibit the discrimination at play,” Hariparanthaman said.

The issue is not unique to the Sivaganga diocese. But the fact that casteism has pervaded Christianity which doesn’t have such a religious sanction, escapes the understanding of D Ravikumar, general secretary, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. “More than 50% of Catholic Christians in the country are dalits. It is shocking to see a majority community (dalits) in a minority religion (Christianity) being subjected to discrimination,” he said.

But escaping caste in India is impossible, believes V Vasanti Devi. A former vice chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Devi was part of the jury which held the public hearing. “The term caste Christian is alien to Christianity elsewhere in the world. But caste is a primordial gene here,” she said.

G Michael Raja, a Dalit, was the first from his pallar community to complete seminary training in April 2012. A victim of deep-rooted casteism in Sivaganga, he is still not ordained. In November 2014, after protests erupted over Raja’s treatment, Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai wrote a letter to the bishops functioning under him. The letter insisted that Raja seek pardon from the bishop of Sivaganga for the “agitations staged by people against the diocese and its administration” for him to be ordained priest.

Raja said since 2012, no other pallar community member had finished training. “It is systematic elimination” (by the diocese). He cited the case of another pallar who had to drop out of seminary because of caste discrimination.

These situations bring up a larger question concerning religious conversion, said C Lakshmanan, associate professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies. “That conversion is not a solution to escape caste is the bigger picture here,” he said.

The fragile nature of the problem also plays into the hands of majoritarian and fundamentalist forces, Ravi Kumar said.

“Majoritarianism wave in the country gets its legitimacy from the discrimination prevailing in minority religion. The diocese must understand the larger danger lurking and resolve the situation,” he said.

Hariparanthaman added that the report and its findings would likely be forwarded to the Vatican in order to bring it to the attention of the Catholic head, Pope Francis.

– times of india

Snoop Dogg releases a gospel album, says He’s a born-again Christian

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

Rap artist Snoop Dogg caused a stir recently when he released his first gospel album Bible of Love.

Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus Jr., has a past fraught with controversy and underhanded dealings, which has added to the skepticism many feel about his new album and assertion that he is a Christian.

As The Christian Post reports, Snoop Dogg has been accused of offering alcohol and marijuana to underage girls and he even bragged about prostituting young women.

As far as his religious beliefs, in 2009 he announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam, then in 2012 he became a Rastafarian. Now, he claims to be a born-again Christian.

When asked what he has to say to those who doubt his conversion, Snoop Dogg responded, “The devil is a liar. I thought church was supposed to welcome sinners. If you find someone trying to find their way back home, the natural thing would be to accept him with open arms. We not gonna throw stones while you trying to get right and walking back into the church house.

That’s what’s running people away from church right now as we speak,” he continued. “We’re trying to get people back in church with a different perspective of come as you are, show love. We show love, we give love.” Then, looking straight at the camera, he asked, “What about you? Have you checked your status? Are you going to Heaven? Why are you judging me? How much have you done for the Lord?”

– cross walk

Christian family shot dead in southwestern Pakistan

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Pakistan, April 3, 2018: Four members of a Christian family were gunned down in southwestern Pakistan on Monday, police said, in the latest attack on the minority community.

The family was travelling in a rickshaw when armed men on a motorcycle intercepted them and opened fire in Quetta city, the capital of Baluchistan province.

A woman was rushed to hospital. Her father and three cousins were killed.

“It appears to have been a targeted attack,” provincial police official Moazzam Jah Ansari told Reuters. “It was an act of terrorism.”

The attack comes a day after Pakistan’s Christian community celebrated Easter on Sunday. Around 2 percent of Pakistan’s population are Christians.

Minority religious festivals are a security concern in the majority Sunni Muslim country where there have been a number of high casualty attacks on Christians and Shi’ite Muslims.

Baluchistan, a region bordering Iran as well as Afghanistan, is plagued by violence by Sunni Islamist sectarian groups linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State. It also has an indigenous ethnic Baloch insurgency fighting against central government.

In December, a week before Christmas, two suicide bombers stormed a packed Christian church in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 10 people and wounding up to 56, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

The family killed on Monday had come to visit relatives in Quetta’s Shahzaman road area, where a large number of the city’s Christian community lives.

Rome’s ancient Colosseum was lit in red for an evening in February in solidarity with persecuted Christians, particularly Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman who has been living on death row in Pakistan since 2010, when she was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam.

– channel news asia

This group slaughtered 225 Christians in March alone but world is silent

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Nigeria, April 9, 2018: A shocking 225 Christians were massacred in Nigeria in March by the radical Fulani herdsmen, according to a watchdog group. Yet the Nigerian government and Western media are failing to take adequate notice of the severity of the escalating crisis, the group said.

International Christian Concern, which monitors attacks on Christians around the world and has been shining a focus on Nigeria, said last week that followers of Christ suffered 27 attacks by the Fulani in March alone.

The raids, mostly in the Plateau and Taraba states, led to the deaths of 225 Christians, along with the destruction of homes and and displacement of thousands of families.

Despite the ongoing, years-long carnage, the attacks by the Fulani — who are largely nomads — are not receiving as much coverage as those by Boko Haram, the other major terror group in Nigeria, ICC told The Christian Post.

Yet in comparison, Boko Haram killed a total of 37 people in March, many of whom were Nigerian military personnel.

“There are several reasons that the West doesn’t say much about Fulani-led violence. First is that they already spend a lot of time and effort covering the Boko Haram situation. This is a far more attractive discussion to the West because it has the terrorist designation tied to it. The Fulani have not been designated as such since 2014 when the designation was assigned and then quickly taken away,” ICC Regional Manager Nathan Johnson told CP Friday.

“Second is that the West believes that this is either just a socioeconomic conflict between herdsmen and farmers or an ethnic conflict between clashing ethnic groups. Many are not willing to call it more than that,” Johnson added.

“Finally, the Nigerian government isn’t speaking about it. They do not want to bring attention to this problem as it would attract more negative media aimed at their government. All of these factors combined lead to silence among most Western media outlets.”

The watchdog group listed on its website the various attacks on Christians by the Fulani in March.

While fewer Fulani attacks were recorded in February, January was also a very deadly month.

Survivors from a raid in Benue State shared their stories. A man, identified only as Peter, said that sometimes the attackers are people from the same community.

“I got up and called them by their names and tried to wrestle the machete they had out of their hands, but to no avail. I was overpowered and they began to cut me,” the man recalled of the attack that left him in a hospital.

ICC explained that there most definitely is a religious aspect to the violence, with the Muslim Fulani specifically slaughtering Christians in their village raids.

“Though there are socioeconomic and ethnic components to these attacks, the majority of attacks are directed at Christian villages. If the attacks were simply driven by socioeconomic or ethnic factors, churches would not be common targets during these attacks. In most of the villages that have been ransacked over the past decade, churches and pastoral homes have been destroyed,” Johnson told CP.

He said that while disputes and fights do occur between Fulani and other Muslim communities, they are on a much smaller scale, with some reports also suggesting that the Fulani warn Muslims in certain communities before carrying out their attacks.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari initially spurred hope in the Christian population in the country when he came to power in 2015 with his hardline stance against Boko Haram.

Christian leaders, including from groups such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, have strongly criticized his administration for failing to do anything significant about the Fulani raids on Christians, however.

“Under President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism to the extent that the herdsmen treat Nigeria as a conquered territory,” the Rev. Musa Asake, general secretary of CAN, said earlier this year.

“Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people.”

Johnson suggested that since Buhari comes from a Muslim Fulani background himself, and with the country split nearly 50-50 between its Christian and Muslim population, it would be “political suicide” for him to denounce the Fulani attacks.

“He would lose a lot of support by saying that his own people and religious community were conducting these types of atrocities,” the ICC regional manager pointed out.

“As for the Nigerian government and military, I believe that their lack of ability to cope with this situation shows either ineptitude, or some form of complicity. There are several ideas circulating about how the government should respond. When I met with several Nigerian representatives and senators in Abuja in February, they expressed a desire for the institution of state police, the creation of nationwide anti-open grazing bills, and the right of communities to defend themselves from these attacks with guns,” he added.

“Regardless of how they go about it, I believe that the Nigerian government must do three things. First, they must reclaim land that has been taken by Fulani. Second, they must rebuild the communities that have been destroyed. Lastly, they must protect their people from future attacks.”

With little Western attention on the matter, Johnson also talked about where Christians in Nigeria can turn to for hope.

“First, I believe that the people of Nigeria need to work to get rid of the corruption in their government and unite themselves as a nation. There is too much division across ethnic and tribal lines for the country to truly be one,” he said.

“Next, there are many groups like ICC doing work to help those suffering in Nigeria. Finally, and most importantly, they need to remain in prayer. Their main hope should come from Christ and his ability to transform lands.”

– christian post

Video of Down syndrome boy hugging Jesus on way to crucifixion goes viral, hits 4 million views

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

Mexico, April 10, 2018: A video of a boy with Down syndrome in Mexico hugging an actor playing Jesus Christ in a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross has been viewed nearly 4 million times.

The video, uploaded last week on Facebook by Plan C es Cynthia García-Galindo, was recorded in Monclova, Mexico, on Good Friday. Church Pop offered a translation of the post from Spanish, which read: “What does a child with a green soccer shirt do at the scene of a Viacrucis in Monclova?”

The post adds: “Remind us of the most sublime love, that of caring for others with mercy! His innocence, his overflowing love, and his Down syndrome challenge us today. Juan Pablo is his name, which should be synonymous with good hope. Let’s teach our children to be more compassionate.”

The video, which as of Tuesday morning was viewed over 3.9 million times, shows the young boy walking next to actors playing Roman soldiers, hugging the Jesus actor by his side, who has his head down.

The debate over protecting babies diagnosed with Down syndrome from being aborted has intensified in the U.S. amid reports that Iceland is aborting nearly every baby diagnosed with the condition, thus practicing its own form of eugenics.

In March, some members of Congress slammed what many Americans called an “offensive” article in The Washington Post titled “I Would’ve Aborted a Fetus With Down Syndrome. Women Need That Right.”

The Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus explained her support for aborting babies with Down syndrome, saying, “You can call me selfish, or worse, but I am in good company. The evidence is clear that most women confronted with the same unhappy alternative would make the same decision.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the House Republicans, tweeted in response: “After reading the opinion piece in the @washingtonpost about aborting babies with Down syndrome, I struggled to put into words how offensive it is.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in his response to Marcus’ editorial, noted that the new Gerber baby also has Down syndrome.

“Lucas’ dignity is inherent, given by God, and it stays with him past the cute, cuddly phase of babyhood,” Sasse said.

“The truth of who he is stands in stark contrast with some of the news we see coming out of Europe lately. In Iceland, and in Denmark, there are actually groups that brag, ‘we’re closer to getting to 100 percent than anybody else. We’re going to be first to be 100 percent Down syndrome free.'”

Some Christians, including a lay member at the General Synod of the Church of England, have said that the high termination rates of unborn children with the genetic disorder is comparable to actions by Nazi Germany.

“In countries like Iceland Down syndrome has been virtually eliminated. What we have is a very simple situation. The U.K. and Europe has begun to practice eugenics, by default, and without intent,” said Andrew Gray, the lay member, in February.

“This is not because of a state-led desire to remove those considered weak or sub-human — we don’t live in 1930s Germany, thank God. But while the reasons and the motivations are different, the outcome is the same.”

– christian post

Easter brought spate of violent attacks on Christians in India

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, April 10, 2018: Christians in India were subjected to a series of violent attacks by Hindu radicals during and after Holy Week, according to persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC).

ICC documented 10 such attacks across India in the week leading up to Easter alone, resulting in the hospitalisation of several Christians with severe injuries.

The group has also learned that an annual prayer gathering in Vakel village, located in the Bastar District of Chhattisgarh, was attacked by Hindu radicals last Thursday. The April 5 attack left many injured, including six Christians who required hospitalisation.

According to Rev Ratha Netam, one of the speakers at the prayer gathering, the event was organised for Christians from the Vakel area as a day of prayer at the Village Evangelical India Mission (VEIM) Church. At 7:30pm, a mob of 70 people forced themselves into the church, shouting pro-Hindu slogans and carrying wooden clubs and proceeded to beat many of the 60 Christians in attendance. Six of the Christians were severely injured.

‘When I saw the Hindu fanatics shouting at believers asking for me to kill, I [was] afraid and went into my home,” Pastor Kasinath Baghel, one of the six injured Christians, told ICC. ‘Three of them entered in my home, held my hands, brought me out and beat me mercilessly. When they were beating me I was frightened greatly and thought that if I were killed what would [become] of my children and wife.’

Another victim, Shanti Baghel, told ICC: ‘They misbehaved with me. They did not even consider me as a woman. They continued to harass me and beat me with the wooden clubs. I was helpless. I was hoping that God will protect me from the hands of these attackers while others ran for their lives to nearby forests.’

A teenage girl who was abused by the attackers, Pansila Baghel, said: ‘When extremists pushed me, I fell to the ground. They beat me and hurled abusive language. One of the attackers told me to give up my ration card, even citizenship, because India is only for Hindus.’

One of the earlier Holy Week attacks took place at 10:40pm on March 29 – Maundy Thursday – as Pastor Koti Reddy was praying on the grounds of Prathyaksha Gudaram Church, adjacent to his family home in the Renichentala village in Andhra Pradesh.

‘I was terrified to see my father in [a] pool of blood with multiple injuries,’ Yohashua Reddy told ICC as he described the attack on his 55-year-old father, Pastor Koti Reddy.

According to Yohashua, his father was attacked by an assailant wielding an axe. ICC said that Pastor Reddy sustained five major injuries and remains in hospital. ‘I didn’t know if my father would survive,’ Yohashua told ICC.

Pastor Reddy had received several death threats, warning him to close down the church.

On Palm Sunday at a church service in Hyderabad, Telangana, a large mob descended and issued threats to worshipping Christians. ‘The entire church was terrified,’ Pastor David Raju, head pastor at the Shalom Prayer House in Peddambaerpet, told ICC. ‘We had around 60 in the church worshipping on Palm Sunday. At about 10:30am, a mob of 30 people came to the church shouting pro-Hindu slogans. They told us that we cannot continue the worship. The mob then forcibly took me to a Hindu house, where more people joined and further threatened me by saying that they would kill me if I didn’t stop the church in that locality.’

And in another incident, another mob of 40 Hindu radicals of the Hindu Munnani group attacked worshippers at a service on Easter Day at K Pungampalayam, located in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, with two pastors sustaining serious injuries. After witnessing the attack, the entire congregation fled the church.

Dr John Dayal, spokesman for United Christian Forum, told ICC: ‘After a difficult Christmas, which saw even [carol singers] arrested on charges of conversion, it has been a Holy Week of violence against Christians in many parts of the country. Colleagues have reported a spurt in persecution even in the National Capital Region of Delhi, especially in the immediate neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.’

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said: ‘Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India are becoming an almost daily occurrence. Hindu radicals across the country have been given a wide berth by local authorities to pursue their campaigns of hate against Christians and other minorities. This inability or unwillingness to protect and enforce the rights of Christians must come to an end or attacks on Christians will continue to rise in both number and intensity.’

– christian today

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