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Man, woman and the mystery of Christ: An Evangelical Protestant perspective

marry1By Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,  posted on The Gospel Coalition

Editors’ note: Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, delivered the following address to a worldwide gathering of religious leaders at the Vatican on the necessity of complementarity and the importance of of marriage from an evangelical Protestant perspective.

Poet Wendell Berry responded to the technological utopianism of naturalistic scientism with an observation that I believe frames the entire discussion of what it means to affirm the complementarity of man and woman in marriage. His observation was that any civilization must decide whether it will see persons as machines or as persons. If we are creatures, he argued, then we have meaning and purpose and dignity—but with all of that we have limits. If we see ourselves as machines, then we will believe the Faustian myth of our own limitless power and our ability to reshape even what it means to be human.

This is, it seems to me, the question at the heart of the controversies every culture faces about the meaning of marriage and of sexuality. Are we created, as both the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus of Nazareth put it, “male and female” from the beginning, or are these categories arbitrary and self-willed? Do our bodies, and our sexes, and our generational connectedness represent something of who we are designed to be, and thus place both limits on our ability to recreate ourselves and responsibilities for those who will come after us?

Those of us at this gathering have many differences. We come from different countries, sometimes with tensions between those countries. We hold to different religions, sometimes with great divergences there on what we believe about God and about the meaning of life. But all of us in this room share at least one thing in common. We did not spring into existence out of nothing, but each one of us can trace his or her origins back to a man and a woman, a mother and a father. We recognize that marriage and family is a matter of public importance, not just of our various theological and ecclesial distinctive communities, since marriage is embedded in the creation order and is the means of human flourishing, not just the arena of individual human desires and appetites. We recognize that marriage, and the sexual difference on which it is built, is grounded in a natural order bearing rights and responsibilities that was not crafted by any human state, and cannot thus be redefined by any human state. It is no accident that questions of marriage and of family bring such heated debate, since our consciences, and our very being, testify that these matters are of critical importance for how we shall live.

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Christians, religious minorities flee violent persecution in Iraq

By Joyce Coronel, The Catholic Sun

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Children crowded into a covered truck as they fled violence in northern Iraq. Christians and other minorities are facing annihilation in their homeland. (Christian Aid Program/CNS)

As the heartrending images of Christians and Yezidis fleeing for their lives continue to pour in from Iraq, the Vatican called on Muslim leaders to condemn the “barbarity” and “unspeakable criminal acts” of Islamic State militants in Iraq.

From 7,000 miles away, Fr. Felix Shabi, a native of Iraq and corbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church of Arizona, said the demise of Christianity in his homeland seemed imminent.

“We’ve lived through difficulties before, but not to this extreme,” Fr. Shabi said. “All of us — we have cousins, friends, brothers there. We are in agony for them. They are starving, without food or water.”

Fr. Shabi said the refusal of Iraq’s Christians to abandon their faith in the face of annihilation is something that ought to open the eyes of those in the West. Islamic State militants, who gained control of Mosul in early June, have captured several Christian villages and cities in the surrounding area. The inhabitants were given a choice: convert, pay an exorbitant “infidel tax,” or die by the sword. Many were killed — even children — but some 100,000 fled, refusing to renounce Christianity.

“They remained faithful,” Fr. Shabi said. “They left their homes, their gold, their businesses, but not their faith.”

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Pope Francis could foster ecumenism, help decentralize Catholic Church

PopeBy Andrea Madambashi
Pope Francis’ installment as pontiff could lead to a major and significant impact not only in the Catholic Church, but also across all religions as well as the political area, a number of Catholic and Evangelical leaders in Latin America have said.

According to numerous Latino Christian leaders, Pope Francis could help to tackle the drop in adherents in the region, as well as become a bridge between the Catholic Church and evangelicals. His impact may not just stop there though, and they have also suggested that he could help connect the Catholic Church with other faiths, and ultimately decentralize the Catholic Church.

These claims have been made by the Vice President of the Alliance of Evangelical Churches of the Republic of Argentina (ACIERA), Gaston Bruno. In an email to The Christian Post, he suggested that Francis’ election may have come about after Cardinals took into account the recent evangelical growth in the region, as well as the large number of Catholics in South America.

“Of course, this reality weighed in a certain way in determining the election of the new Roman Pontiff,” Bruno wrote to CP.

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At inaugural Mass, Pope Francis calls for defending environment, poor

PopeBy Allesandro Speciale

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis issued a powerful call for the protection of the environment and of society’s most vulnerable during his formal installation Mass at the Vatican, while qualifying his papal power as a “service” to the church and to humanity.

The pope on Tuesday (March 19) celebrated a solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Square in front of an estimated 200,000 people, as well as political and religious leaders from all over the world.

During the Mass, Francis received the symbols of his papal authority over the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics: the pallium, a lamb’s wool stole that recalls Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and the “ring of the fisherman.”

In keeping with the low-key style that has been the hallmark of his pontificate so far, Francis presided over a somewhat simpler, and definitely shorter, rite than the one that marked the start of Benedict XVI’s reign in 2005.

Read more at Religious News Service.

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Bergoglio: A pope of paradox for a church in transition

New popeBy David Gibson

VATICAN CITY – A hierarchy looking to make a clear statement about where the troubled church is headed chose on Wednesday (March 13) the first member of the influential Jesuit order to be the next pope. Yet they also chose Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a humble man who lives simply and took the name Francis (also a first) that evokes the founder of another great religious order.

The College of Cardinals picked the first non-European in modern times, as well – yet he is the son of Italian immigrants and grew up in Argentina, perhaps the most European of any country in Latin America.

And the cardinals above all wanted a pastoral figure who would project an image of vigor and warmth to the world after the eight-year reign of Pope Benedict XVI — an introverted, gaffe-prone German theologian who was 78 when he was elected and retired last month at 85, saddled by the burdens of this very public office.

Yet in his stead they chose a soft-spoken 76-year-old who has been rapped for rarely cracking a smile — an image that Bergoglio did little to dispel with his low-key introduction as Pope Francis to the expectant crowd in St. Peter’s Square on a rainy Roman evening.

“Buona sera,” Francis said in deliberate, word perfect Italian, with just a slight Spanish accent. “You all know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals have come almost to the ends of the earth to get him … but here we are.”

So what, in fact, does the election of Francis say about the Catholic Church at this point in its history?

Learn more at http://www.religionnews.com/2013/03/13/bergoglio-a-pope-of-paradox-for-a-church-in-transition/

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Cardinals begin process of choosing new pope

By John Waage

CardinalsThe Roman Catholic cardinals who will elect a new pope to succeed Benedict XVI are arriving at the Vatican and have held their first meeting since the pope officially left office on Friday.

Benedict became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign rather than die in office. One 21st Century reflection of the change is the papal Twitter page, where Benedict’s picture has been deleted and his tweets moved to another area of the website.

Monday’s meeting of the cardinals opened in prayer, and each cardinal took an oath of secrecy, pledging to keep quiet about matters related to the election of the next pope.

The cardinals have not yet set a date for the election because some of the 115 cardinals who will vote have not yet arrived in Rome.

 

Read more at http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2013/March/Cardinals-Begin-Process-of-Choosing-New-Pope/

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Pope Benedict defends choice to resign in last public address

 

By Allesandro Speciale

PopeVATICAN CITY – In his final public address, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday (Feb. 27) forcefully defended his decision to resign while trying to reassure Catholics still reeling from the shock of his unprecedented move.

For the first time since his stunning announcement on Feb. 11, the 85-year old pope explained at length his decision to become the first pope in six centuries to resign. His tenure officially ends Thursday at 8 p.m. local time.

Benedict admitted that his resignation is a “grave” and “novel” act but, he added, his choice had been made “with profound serenity.”

Red more at http://www.religionnews.com/2013/02/27/pope-defends-choice-to-resign-in-last-public-address/

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