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AirAsia Bodies Found, US Airstrike in Somalia, Pressure on Dalits to Renounce Christ

AirAsia X Airbus A330-343 cn 1549 F-WWKD – 9M-XXT – 02 © Clément Alloing – CC

© Clément Alloing / CC

James Asquith - published on 12/30/14

James Asquith's News Tips

Pope Francis sends message to Taizé ecumenical event in Prague — In a message to young people from around the globe gathered in the capital of the Czech Republic, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin says that through prayer and reciprocal dialogue, they are attempting to be “the salt of the earth” and the Pope encourages them in their efforts towards greater communion 
Pope Francis to visit the Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii on March 21  
Archbishop of Antwerp calls for Church recognition of same-sex unions — Archbishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp has said that he favors “formal recognition” of homosexual and bisexual couples. Stopping short of an endorsement for same-sex marriage, he observed that governments have offered different types of recognition for different unions, and suggested that the Church too could have “a diversity of forms of recognition” for various relationships (What does the Church have to offer if it abandons the teachings of God?) 
German bishops seek way for remarried divorcees to receive Communion ahead of next year’s Synod on Family — The majority of German bishops would like to see remarried divorcees being allowed to receive the sacraments under certain specified circumstances 
The New America: In a brawl apparently instigated using social media, a thousand or more young teen black girls descended on Monroeville Mall outside Pittsburgh, resulting in the mall being closed as a massive brawl broke out 
Mexican kidnappings prompt US government warning — A series of kidnappings in the Mexican border city of Matamoros prompted the US Department of State to issue a security warning to American travelers 
Obama suggests Putin is "not so smart"
Palestinian video "How to stab a Jew" gains popularity — A video being widely circulated in Palestinian social media networks teaches jihadists how to stab a Jewish person in a manner that ensures their speedy death 
Israeli beaten and robbed by Palestinians in Hebron
Nazareth at Christmas — The ancient Galilean town is the largest Christian community in Israel and the one country in the Middle East where the Christian population is actually growing 
No New Year cheer for Russian economy
Tom Hoopes’ 
"Sex and the Media" identifies five lessons to be gained from the media’s reporting of sex-related events which occured in 2014. In response to Gwyneth Paltrow’s redefinition of marriage Tom writes: "No-blame, no-pain, no-problem divorce is the ultimate end of “no-fault” divorce and is nothing new. But whatever its psychological and emotional benefits for the couple involved, this new way of describing the end of a marriage further defines adultery out of existence and runs the risk of downplaying the devastating effects divorce has on children." (See my further comment on this article at the end of today’s tips) 
Ebola case confirmed in Glasgow

Ukraine forced to shut down nuclear power station for second time in a month after "accident" — Ukraine was forced to shut down a reactor at its biggest nuclear power plant yesterday following an "electrical malfunction," the second such incident in the space of a month 
Christians continue to be massacred in Nigeria — 15 Christians (including one infant) have been murdered by Islamists in Nigeria. The raid occurred at approximately 4am when the militants set fire to homes and churches. Father Clement Mkperaga, a Roman Catholic priest whose church building was destroyed in the assault, said that he barely escaped with his life. “No one cares about us. Lives and homes are being destroyed on a daily basis, and the government is not doing anything to stop the killing of our people.” 
Sudanese government jail minister for preaching at church in Khartoum — Agents from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services arrested a church minister from Southern Sudan and have detained him since Dec. 21 after he delivered a sermon at a church in Khartoum. The church and its property have come under attack as a result of Muslims who wish to claim the land on which the church is built for their own purposes 
Islamist groups gaining ground in Africa warns persecution charity — "There is evidence to suggest they will become a growing force for instability in East Africa in 2015. The greatest risk to freedom of faith in the new year comes from Islamic groups determined to establish their brutal version of Sharia law — whatever the cost to human life." 
US launches air strike in Somalia
Cardinal Turkson calls for new government in Ghana — The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican,
Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson, has called for a break in partisan politics to give the nation a reprieve from what he describes as "political turmoil." During that partisanship break, he recommended the establishment of a national government of technocrats to stabilize the "political turmoil" and fashion out a national development agenda that would stand the test of time 
ISIS loots and blows up Catholic church in Mosul — Islamic State militants have looted and blown up a Catholic church in Mosul over Christmas. Terrorists planted bombs in the Church of the Virgin Mary in al-Arabi, in north Mosul and sealed the building, demolishing it the next day. Footage of the demolition emerged on Christmas Day 
Ancient Syrian Christian site being destroyed — Satellite photographs show digging and looting around the Dura-Europos in Syria, a third century building of priceless archaeological significance 
India’s lowest caste and poorest community, the Dalits, are the object of government persecution and of unchecked militant violence — For many in the lowest caste system in India, a people known as the Dalit, turning to Christ has brought them increased persecution in an already oppressive society.  Left to work only the most menial jobs in the country, they will now lose the government benefits once reserved for the Dalit unless they choose to renounce their Christian faith and return to Hinduism (See comment at end of today’s tips) 
Ten-year-old boy mutilated and sacrificed in witchcraft ceremony to make wife pregnant
Taliban declare defeat of US in Afghanistan
Bodies and debris from missing AirAsia plane pulled from sea off Indonesian coast
The secret war between Iran and Pakistan — In the largely forgotten deserts of Baluchistan that straddle the Iran-Pakistan border, covert wars are underway that could have far reaching consequences 
Cross torn down from Christian nursing home in China — Chinese authorities have torn down a cross at a Christian nursing home in the latest example of a growing crackdown on Christianity in China 
California activists want sexual consent taught to children attending kindergarten — Aiming to address the “rape culture” pervasive at college campuses across the country, a student activist group has proposed teaching children as young as five about sexual consent. Feminist groups insist "consent education" for youngsters will not overtly teach sex ed 
Atheist scientists turning to God as science increasingly proves His intelligent design — (If you are among the legion of Christians who have never taken the time to read a few good books on the case for creation (and there are some fine films too) then I encourage you to do so. Not only does creation make perfect scientific sense but, specifically, Darwinism is uncovered for what it is; a mind-numbingly irrational and completely ridiculous concept! The fact that educational leaders (especially in the US) continue to trump evolution is unbelievable and perhaps an indication of the "spiritual" bent which is evident in many arguments which oppose God. Do yourself a favor in 2015 and buy a handful of scholarly and reputable creationist books and begin to see the glorious wonder of our Lord’s creative power and the perfect sense it makes 
Catholicism and Environmentalism — Catholics with an interest in the environment should attempt to separate legitimate science from ideological noise and organizational self-interest 
State-approved screensavers, shared email addresses and why you must write Kim Jong Un’s name in large font — A glimpse at computing in North Korea 
Creative photo shoot at Admont Abbey library 
Is Microsoft about to kill off Internet Explorer?
Newsweek finds Christianity again — Newsweek’s latest cover story represents the first time in a year the magazine gave top billing to an examination of Christianity. But religious-themed cover stories have long been a hallmark of the publication, and Jesus, in particular, has been a recurring figure. (Yes, most times mockingly!) 
Alice Cooper urges fans not to adhere to "Celebrity Christianity" — Despite deeming himself and his music unworthy of religious authority, Cooper said his faith has affected his career in music. Whereas sex, drugs and alcohol were once referenced on his stage earlier in his career, Cooper has replaced them with new material. "I’m very careful about what the lyrics are," he explained. "I tried to write songs that were equally as good, only with a better message." The rocker, who was raised in a Christian home with a father who was a preacher, turned his life over to God more than 20 years ago 
This Day in Church History: On this day in 1993, the Vatican and the nation of Israel signed the
Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel. Both parties promised to uphold human freedom and the right to worship. Both deplored anti-Semitism. Israel agreed to maintain the "status quo" on places of worship that belonged to the Roman Church. Scholarly exchanges and exchanges of ancient manuscripts were encouraged. The Church was allowed to carry on its charitable and moral works and to own property in Israel 
In Tom Hoopes’ piece 
"Sex and the Media" he writes of learning lessons from America’s "cultural imperialism" saying, "While we Americans tell increasingly crass jokes for kicks, we sometimes forget that our entertainment products are also pouring into other cultures worldwide, and many people don’t like it. The best of them are merely disgusted by us. The worst get violent." 

I would say that this is probably an understatement. In fact, I am aware, for example, there are numerous religious and political leaders in Africa and the Middle East who directly blame American film and television for the breakdown of their social culture. They believe that the sheer volume of promiscuous sex, glorified violence and blatant materialism has twisted the values of their people by appealing to their most basic instincts and that the less educated members of their society are most vulnerable. I suspect that to a large extent they are probably right.

In today’s news from Asiawe read about the continuing persecution of India’s lowest caste, the Dalits, Their plight (being attacked from members of their own society as well as by India’s national government), is a case for Pope Francis to champion. I truly hope that he will not remain silent over the shameful treatment of our brothers and sisters in India. That they are considered outcasts by their fellow countrymen is bad enough, but that the government is getting in on the act by reinforcing discrimination towards Dalits, because of their faith, is shameful in the extreme. How I pray that our Lord will reveal to those who suffer, just how much He loves and cares for them
 but .. this love and care God oftentimes expresses through us, and we must therefore act. I call upon the Vatican to request of the Indian government that they repeal their vile and prejudiced law marginalizing the Dalits due to their faith. (Further reference material 

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