Current Events

Christian Unity?

According to an article by The Associated Press, which was published on June 16, 2005, “Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday the search for unity between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christians was ‘irreversible,’ underlining his desire to improve relations and heal the 1,000-year-old rift with the Orthodox Church. Benedict made the comments in a meeting with… Samuel Kobia, the leader of the World Council of Churches, the fellowship of more than 300 churches from nearly all Christian traditions, including Protestants and the Orthodox. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member, but cooperates with the WCC.

“In his remarks, Benedict repeated his pledge that his ‘primary task’ as pope would be to work tirelessly to rebuild unity of all Christians with ‘concrete gestures’ and not just words. ‘The commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is irreversible,’ Benedict said.”

However, it must be asked what this unity will look like. As the article continued to point out:

“In an interview with the AP ahead of the papal audience, Kobia said he was hoping for progress in one area in particular that has vexed some Protestant members of the World Council. The issue stems from a 2000 document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was headed by the pope when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The document, ‘Dominus Iesus,’ which Ratzinger signed, framed the role of the Catholic Church in human salvation in an exclusive manner. It suggested that non-Catholic ‘ecclesiastical communities’ were ‘not churches in the proper sense.’ ‘There are many Protestant churches that are members of the WCC and are concerned that they are defined as “ecclesiastic communities” and not full churches,’ Kobia said. He said he wasn’t looking for Benedict to renounce the 2000 document, but said he hoped the two sides could ‘move beyond it.'”

Of course, nobody expects that the pope will renounce or repudiate the document, as it sets forth accurately the Catholic teaching on the issue. But what is gained by “moving beyond it”? True peaceful unity could never be achieved with the above-described teaching of the Catholic Church in place, UNLESS the Protestant and Orthodox churches give up their stance on the matter and embrace the Catholic Church and the pope as their spiritual leader and religious authority.

Sunday Laws in Europe

The British Daily Mail reported on June 17, 2005, about attempts in Britain by chain stores and supermarkets to “turn Sunday into ordinary shopping days.” The article erroneously refers to Sunday as “the Sabbath,” and explains that in the UK, stores greater than 280 square meters of shopping space may open for six hours but must remain closed on Christmas and Easter. Smaller stores are allowed to open for as long as they like. Two thirds of retailers are willing to open for longer on Sunday.

According to the article, “the Church of England says the proposal would have devastating consequences and the Keep Sunday Special campaign warns it would destroy a vital family day… The Church of England… says: ‘Sunday is not a normal day, it is a holy day.'”

This is of course untrue, if we look at the teachings of the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible declare that Sunday is holy. Rather, according to God’s Word, it is the Seventh-Day-SABBATH, which God made holy, and which is still holy today! History reveals that it was the Catholic Church that declared Sunday to be holy, and most other Christian churches, including the Church of England, followed the Catholic Church’s lead to declare Sunday holy, while abrogating the worship of the 7th-Day-Sabbath. However, man cannot declare unholy, what God has made holy; nor can he make holy, what God has not decreed to be holy. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy,” and “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

The Daily Mail continued to explain that many European countries have special Sunday laws, or observe Sunday practices and customs. Some of these countries, generally forbidding or not engaging in trade on Sundays, are Germany, France, Spain, Norway, and Italy. The article explained that, for instance, Poland has NO Sunday regulations, “which has led to an influx of German shoppers on a Sunday.”

It can be expected that with the growing influence of the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI, Sunday laws in Catholic countries such as Poland will be enacted soon.

More Earthquakes in California

As The Associated Press reported on Thursday, June 16, 2005, another “moderate earthquake shook most of Northern California Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The 1:53 p.m. quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 and was centered three miles northeast of Yucaipa in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Shaking was reported from Los Angeles to San Diego and in counties to the east.”

Subsequently, additional earthquakes struck Southern California near Eureka. The Associated Press reported on Saturday, June 18:

“A 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Northern California, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, authorities said. The quake late Thursday came just days after a larger temblor in the region generated a tsunami warning that sent residents scrambling.”

The Associated Press reported on Monday, June 20, about another earthquake near Eureka:

“A 5.0-magnitude earthquake hit about 120 miles off Northern California early Sunday morning, near the location where a larger temblor prompted a brief tsunami warning last week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The earthquake struck at 1:27 a.m. and was centered about 130 miles west of Eureka. A Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher said there were no immediate reports of damages or injuries.”

The article concluded with these words of uncertainty (emphasis added):

“Californians have had a string of significant earthquakes after several years of relative seismic calm. But seismologists say clusters of earthquakes do not ALWAYS mean the Big One is coming.”

Germany Condemns Mass Murders

According to an article by Reuters, which was published on June 16, 2005, “Germany’s parliament condemned on Thursday the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks 90 years ago, sparking an angry protest from Ankara. Voting shortly after the government and opposition clashed over whether Turkey should join the European Union, all main parties in the Bundestag joined in deploring what many historians say amounted to genocide. The resolution stopped short of calling the killings genocide, a term Turkey rejects, but it will test relations between Ankara and Berlin, a staunch supporter of Turkish EU aspirations.

“‘This resolution is regrettable and we strongly condemn it,’ said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement. It described the resolution as one-sided and ‘provocative’ and said it would hurt Turks’ feelings. It said German lawmakers had been motivated by domestic politics and had ignored repeated warnings of the harm the resolution would do to bilateral ties.

“Turkey denies the claims that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide between 1915 and 1923 as the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire collapsed. It accepts hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed but says even more Turks died in a partisan conflict in which many Armenians backed invading Russian troops… Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told German reporters this week that the resolution amounted to ‘a huge injustice toward Turkey and Turks living in Germany,’ the German newspaper Rheinische Post reported on Thursday. Teaching in German schools about the ‘destruction’ of Armenians as proposed by the resolution would create hostility against Turks among German youth, the Turkish foreign ministry statement said… Around 2 million Turks live in Germany…

“The resolution [of the German parliament] also condemned the German government of the time for failing to try to stop the killings despite having ‘information about the organized expulsion and extermination of Armenians.’ Germany was an ally of the Ottoman Empire during World War One, when the massacres took place. ‘The German parliament is well aware from its own experience how hard it is for all peoples to deal with the dark side of their past,’ the resolution said in a reference to Germany’s own Nazi regime and its murder of millions of Jews.”

Turkey and the EU

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported on June 17, 2005, “With Europe still reeling over the ‘no” votes in France and the Netherlands on the European constitution, many Turks are also having second thoughts about their 40-year drive to join the European Union… For Turks, the French rejection of the constitution occurred on an ironic day — May 29, the anniversary of the Ottoman Turks’ capture of Constantinople in 1453 and their emergence as a power extending into Europe. To many Frenchmen, the referendum seemed to be a way to repel another Turkish invasion of Europe… One of the central themes of the ‘no’ campaign in France and the Netherlands was opposition to enlargement of the bloc, and especially to the membership of predominantly Muslim Turkey… The prospect of having to make concessions on politically sensitive topics has also made more Turks question the price of membership… Some European politicians, emphatically led by the French, have called on Turkey to recognize the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as ‘genocide’ — a red line for all Turkish politicians.”

Cohabitation Harmful?

In a recent article of Psychology Today, the publication warned against cohabitation of couples prior to marriage. The article pointed out that “couples who move in together before marriage have up to two times the odds of divorce, as compared with couples who marry before living together. Moreover, married couples who have lived together before exchanging vows tend to have poorer-quality marriages than couples who moved in after the wedding. Those who cohabited first report less satisfaction, more arguing, poorer communication and lower levels of commitment.”

In spite of these observations, the article stated:

“Thirty or 40 years ago, cohabitation was relatively rare, mainly the province of artists and other questionable types, and still thought of as ‘living in sin.’ In 1970 only about 500,000 couples lived together in unwedded bliss. Now, nearly 5 million opposite-sex couples in the United States live together outside of marriage; millions more have done it at some point… Some evidence indicates that women have less control over the progress of the cohabiting relationship. She may assume they’re on the road to marriage, but he may think they’re just saving on rent and enjoying each other’s company… Cohabiting men may carry their uncertainty forward into marriage, with destructive consequences. A 2004 study… found that men who had lived with their spouse premaritally were on average less committed to their marriages than those who hadn’t…

“Cohabiting relationships, by their nature, appear to be less fulfilling than marital relationships. People who cohabit say they are less satisfied and more likely to feel depressed… While the precarious finances of many cohabiters has something to do with it, [another factor is] the inherent lack of stability. Long-term cohabitation is rare: most couples either break up or marry within five years… As a result, cohabitation is not an ideal living arrangement for children. Emotionally or academically, the children of cohabiters just don’t do as well, on average, as those with two married parents, and money doesn’t fully explain the difference… Cohabitation rates may be skyrocketing, but Americans are still entirely enchanted with marriage. That’s a sharp contrast with some Western societies — Sweden, France or the Canadian province of Quebec, for example — where cohabitation is beginning to replace marriage… In the United States, 90 percent of young people are still expected to tie the knot at some point.”

EU Budget Talks Collapse

As The Associated Press reported on June 17, 2005, “Talks on the European Union’s budget collapsed in acrimony Friday, abruptly ending a summit that diplomats had hoped would pull the EU out of its constitutional dilemma. Top European leaders blamed each other for the breakdown but agreed the bloc was ‘in a deep crisis.’ The failure to agree on a budget for 2007-2013 reinforced impressions that the 50-year process of EU integration has lost direction after the French and Dutch referendums in which voters rejected a proposed EU constitution…

“[O]n Friday, Britain refused to surrender its annual rebate and several other nations demanded financial relief. French President Jacque Chirac said he ‘deplored’ Britain’s attitude during the tense negotiations… German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said, ‘We are in one of the worst political crises Europe has ever seen. We could not get an agreement because of the stubbornness of Great Britain and the Netherlands.’ British Prime Minister Tony Blair dismissed suggestions that Britain was the main cause of the summit’s collapse, insisting four other countries also were unable to reach agreement…

“In a sign of how much the EU’s new members were prepared to go to clinch a deal, Poland, the Czech Republic and eight other eastern nations offered funds destined for them to their rich western partners. Chirac praised the 10 nations that joined the EU last year, saying their offer to give up money to get Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Britain to agree to a budget deal contrasted with ‘the selfishness of two or three rich states.’… The budget dispute soured the second day of summit negotiations, pitting Britain against France.”

Reuters added the following observations:

“In a welter of recrimination, many leaders blamed Britain for blocking a deal on the 2007-2013 budget… German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder blamed British and Dutch obduracy for what he called ‘one of the worst crises Europe has known.’… The failure means Blair will inherit the EU presidency for six months on July 1 accused of torpedoing the budget talks, even by some in the ‘new Europe’ whose accession he championed.”

Reuters also observed in a related article: “The European Union’s double failure over its budget and constitution at a summit this week will probably have to wait until next year for resolution, EU politicians and analysts said on Saturday… With Britain, which led an assault on the EU budget at the summit, taking over the presidency of the 25-nation bloc, there seemed little chance of resolving the crisis until next year. Gernot Erler, foreign policy expert for Germany’s ruling Social Democrats, said: ‘You cannot expect anything from the next presidency, Britain’s, because (Prime Minister) Tony Blair particularly has contributed to the failure.’ A compromise on the disputed budget would have to wait for the Austrian presidency in the first half of 2006, he said… But London said on Saturday the EU may need a shock to reinvent itself.”

The German Press did not shy away from blaming Tony Blair and Great Britain for the collapse. Bild Online’s headline read: “Great Britain and the Netherlands plunge the EU into chaos.” Der Spiegel Online agreed that the collapse occurred mainly because of Great Britain’s demands. Der Stern Online wrote that Tony Blair was sharply criticized because of his unrelenting attitude.

The AFP added the following perspective in its article, which was published on June 18:

“Open warfare broke out over the future of the European Union after leaders’ attempts to agree to a long-term budget collapsed. The stunning failure of a two-day EU summit heaped new shame on the bloc, which had to place an EU constitutional treaty on ice following twin ballot blows from French and Dutch voters. Britain was arrayed against most of its 24 EU partners, refusing to part with a jealously-guarded budget rebate. The dispute degenerated into an ugly cross-channel skirmish with France… Amid the chaos, the European press on Saturday likened the dispute to the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, waged 190 years ago this weekend not far from Brussels.”

Although the purported reasons for the present crisis in Europe are many, one paramount cause seems to be the existence of two different philosophies about the future of Europe. The British and especially the French are at serious odds with each other. The EUobserver explained on June 18:

“Following a bitter and failed summit on the future funding of the EU, veteran politician and current head of the EU Jean-Claude Juncker has concluded that Europe is divided into two opposing camps–a free trade camp and a political Europe camp… A large part of the reason that the French voted No was fears of a free-market Anglo-Saxon model of Europe, which they felt would cost jobs and social security… By the time the summit came around, both sides were spoiling for a fight with the British rebate and French farm subsidies taking the foreground but an ideological divide providing the background.”

An interesting perspective was also offered by the publication, “This Is London.” It was reported on June 19:

“Britain has blamed France for the EU budget crisis, accusing it of wanting a Europe ‘trapped in the past.’ France, Germany and Luxembourg turned on Britain after talks to broker a new EU budget collapsed. But Foreign Secretary Jack Straw insisted Britain had the support of at least four other countries. And he said those attacking Britain were on the wrong side of the divide. French president Jacques Chirac led the recriminations late on Friday night after Tony Blair twice rejected compromise proposals aimed at securing a deal. Mr Blair insisted he had no choice as the proposals would have meant abandoning Britain’s £3 billion-a-year budget rebate without tackling massive farm subsidies. Mr Straw… said the crisis had come about because other member states had failed to face up to the need for major reform. He said the decisive rejection of the EU constitution by the people of France and the Netherlands was a rejection of an ‘old-fashioned’ concept of Europe. He said it has been ‘a sad day for Europe.’ But he said it also represented an opportunity to make the changes vital for the future of the EU.

“Mr Straw conceded there was a serious schism. ‘It is essentially a division between whether you want a European Union that is able to cope with the future or whether you want a European Union that is trapped in the past,’ he said.”

The fact that most European politicians blame Great Britain for the present European chaos is remarkable. Most Britons are against the United States of Europe and Europe’s common currency, the Euro, but Tony Blair was — so far — seen as a supporter of both. Now, in light of most recent developments, Tony Blair might not be perceived to be a supporter for much longer. The Bible strongly indicates that Great Britain will not be a part of the final configuration of the United States of Europe, as foretold in Scripture. For more information, please read our free booklet,“The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

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