Current Events

Pope Francis

NPR reported on March 13, 2013:

“The new pope, 76-year-old Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first pontiff from Latin America and the first Jesuit, but he appears to hold views very much in line with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

“Bergoglio has chosen the papal name Francis, becoming the 266th to hold the title of spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.

“Catholic News Service calls him an accomplished theologian and says Bergoglio has “written books on spirituality and meditation and has been outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages.”

“He was born Dec. 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires to Italian parents Mario, a railway worker, and Regina, a housewife, reports Argentina’s La Nacion.”

The New York Times offered their report of the papal election on March 13, 2013:

“With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to lead the church.

“The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church.

“In choosing Francis, 76, who had been the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the cardinals sent a powerful message that the future of the church lies in the global south, home to the bulk of the world’s Catholics…

“’It was like waiting for the birth of a baby, only better,’ said a Roman man, Giuliano Uncini. A child sitting atop his father’s shoulders waved a crucifix.

“Francis is known as a humble man who spoke out for the poor and led an austere life in Buenos Aires. He was born to Italian immigrant parents and was raised in the Argentine capital.

“The new pope inherits a church wrestling with an array of challenges that intensified during his predecessor, Benedict XVI, including a shortage of priests, growing competition from evangelical churches in the Southern Hemisphere, a sexual abuse crisis that has undermined the church’s moral authority in the West and difficulties governing the Vatican itself…

“A doctrinal conservative, Francis has opposed liberation theology, abortion, gay marriage and the ordination of women, standing with his predecessor in holding largely traditional views.” 

The Roman Catholic Church has been fraught with controversy–especially, the actions of gay priests who have abused youth. It has also suffered a loss of attendance and a serious lack of new priests. With worldwide attention now so openly focused on this newly elected pope, the potential for this church to exert greater and greater influence seems a real possibility! We also take note that Pope Francis is the son of Italian parents who immigrated to Argentina, making his selection still closely tied to Italian rule over Rome. Besides his native Spanish, Bergoglio also speaks Italian and German.

The Mystery of Rome!

CNN reported the following on Tuesday, March 12, 2013:

“Moving in solemn procession through rooms rich with painting and history, the Catholic cardinals Tuesday went into the Sistine Chapel, where they will take part in the secret election of a new pope.
“One of their number will almost certainly emerge from the process as the new spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
“Chanting prayers as they walked, the 115 cardinal-electors — those under age 80 who are eligible to vote — made their way slowly from the nearby Pauline Chapel.
“Once they all have entered the Sistine Chapel they will each swear an oath of secrecy. A designated official will then give the order in Latin, ‘Extra omnes’ — that is, ‘Those who are extra, leave.’

 “At this point all those not taking part in the conclave will leave the Sistine Chapel and the doors will be closed.
“From that point on, the only clue the world will have of what is happening inside will be periodic puffs of smoke from a copper chimney installed on the chapel roof over the weekend.
“Black smoke, no pope. White smoke, success.
“Earlier, the scarlet-clad cardinals celebrated a special morning Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, where they prayed for guidance in making a choice that could be crucial to the future direction of a church rocked by scandal in recent years.”

Reuters, covering this same story, reported on March 12, 2013:

“Red-robed cardinals retreated behind the heavy wooden doors of the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday at the start of a conclave that will elect a new pope to tackle the strife and scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church.

“Latin chants and organ music accompanied the cardinals as they processed into the room, with Michelangelo’s depiction of Christ delivering the Last Judgment on the back wall and his image of the hand of God giving life to Adam on the ceiling.

“Laying their own hands on the Gospels and speaking in Latin, they took a vow of secrecy not to divulge anything about the ballot, which was expected to start with an initial round of voting later in the afternoon.

“No conclave in the modern era has chosen a pope on the first day, and some cardinals speculated earlier this week that it might take up to four or five days to pick the man to replace Pope Benedict, who unexpectedly abdicated last month…

“Earlier, on a day rich in ritual and pageantry, Italian cardinal Angelo Sodano called for unity in the Church, which is beset by sex abuse scandals, bureaucratic infighting, financial difficulties and the rise of secularism.”

There are obvious and unavoidable parallels to be drawn from news reports about this conclave to elect a new pope and what is written in the Book of Revelation concerning a powerful, world-influencing religion. Details about prophesied events concerning this religion and its influence over the governments of Europe can be found in our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy – The Unfolding of End-Time Events.”

The Cost of Catholic Cover-ups

USA Today reported on March 12, 2013:

“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay four men almost $10 million to settle allegations of sexual abuse by a former priest who more than a quarter century ago had confessed to molesting children, attorneys said Tuesday.

“Two brothers will receive $4 million each, and the other two men will get nearly $1 million apiece, said John Manly, a plaintiff’s attorney.

“The settlement is the first since the Catholic Church released thousands of internal records detailing the actions of the defrocked priest, Michael Baker, and how church officials responded. Baker was convicted in 2007 of child molestation and paroled in 2011.

“In January, as the files were about to be made public, a California judge ordered the archdiocese to identify all priests and church officials named in the documents.

“The confidential files — medical and psychiatric records, abuse reports, church memos and letters with the Vatican — revealed that in 1986, Baker told Cardinal Roger Mahony that he had abused boys beginning in 1974. Mahony removed Baker from [the] ministry and sent him to New Mexico for psychological treatment.

“A year later, however, he returned with a doctor’s recommendation that he not spend any time with minors and that he should be defrocked immediately if he did. Nonetheless, the abuse continued until 2000, when Baker was finally removed.

“Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011. Last month, his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, stripped him of his official duties.

“Mahony is in Rome participating in the conclave selecting the next pope. He was aware of the settlement, J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney, told the Associated Press.”

While the Catholic Church seems grudgingly willing to pay huge settlements for sexual abuse claims, it doesn’t appear to have treated the crimes all that seriously from within. This and so many other cases by priests who have been guilty of heinous abuses stand is stark contrast to the face that Catholic leadership is trying to present as a new pope is elected.

North Korea On the Brink of War?

Reported by The Australian, March 13, 2013:

“North Korea leader Kim Jong-un has threatened to ‘wipe out’ a South Korean island as Pyongyang came under new economic and diplomatic fire from US sanctions and UN charges of gross rights abuses.

“Military tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen to their highest level for years, with the communist state under the youthful Mr Kim threatening nuclear war in response to UN sanctions imposed after its third atomic test last month.

“It has also announced its unilateral shredding of the 60-year-old Korean War armistice and non-aggression pacts with Seoul in protest at a joint South Korean-US military exercise that began on Monday.
“While most of these statements have been dismissed as rhetorical bluster, the latest threat to the border island of Baengnyeong, which has around 5000 civilian residents, appears credible and carries the weight of precedent.”

The Guardian reported on March 12, 2013:

“State-run television reported mass rallies across North Korea against the US and said Kim Jong-un had told troops to be on ‘maximum alert’ for a potential war. Kim told troops stationed near disputed waters that have been the scene of previous clashes that ‘war can break out right now’.

“Earlier, North Korea threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the US and South Korea. North Korea has blamed Seoul’s joint military exercises this month with the US for the increased tensions. But Washington said Pyongyang is lashing out with ‘belligerent rhetoric’ after the UN security council imposed new sanctions over North Korea’s underground test of a nuclear weapon last month.”

Worldwide Web the New Battlegound!

On March 11, 2013, Euronews wrote:

“America is under cyber attack, and Washington now believes there is evidence that China is officially sponsoring much of it.

“The source of much of the activity is a military building, and not some amateur hacker’s home. Mandiant, a private security firm has traced a wave of cyber attacks to the door of China’s cyber command. The report has rattled Washington, and the IT and intelligence communities are still scrambling for adequate answers.

“On Wednesday the Homeland Security Committee of the US Congress holds a hearing on cyber security, with the fear that World War Three is already underway, via fibre-optic links and secret servers putting vital infrastructure at risk, and stealing valuable secrets…

“As we enter an age of a new kind of warfare, undeclared and with no Geneva Convention regulating its excesses, many fear diplomacy will have little clout in Beijing.”

And from the Los Angeles Times on March 12, 2013:

“Iran has made progress toward developing nuclear weapons capability, Al Qaeda sympathizers are resurgent across North Africa and the Middle East, and the U.S. economy is vulnerable to relatively unsophisticated cyber-attacks, according to America’s top intelligence officer.
“James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, is set to appear Tuesday morning with other senior U.S. national security officials at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to deliver their annual assessment of threats around the globe.
“According to a copy of Clapper’s prepared remarks, the danger of cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage on crucial infrastructure tops the list of global threats. As a result, America’s intelligence agencies are reevaluating how they operate.

“’Threats are more diverse, interconnected and viral than at any time in history. Attacks, which might involve cyber and financial weapons, can be deniable and unattributable,’ he says…

“Cyber-espionage is rampant and growing, Clapper acknowledges, and it is damaging American competitiveness: 
“‘Foreign intelligence and security services have penetrated numerous computer networks of U.S. government, business, academic and private sector entities…. This is almost certainly allowing our adversaries to close the technological gap between our respective militaries, slowly neutralizing one of our key advantages in the international arena.'”

No Victory and No Welcome in Afghanistan

NPR wrote on March 10, 2013:

“Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai claims the U.S. is holding talks outside Afghanistan with the Afghan Taliban.

“The allegations come as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel continues his first visit to the nation as Pentagon Chief – and after a deadly explosion in Kabul on Saturday that the Taliban called a message to the new defense secretary.

“Karzai made his claims in a nationally broadcast address just hours before he was to meet with Hagel, reports NPR’s David Welna, who is traveling with Hagel.

“‘Karzai claimed the U.S. has been meeting daily elsewhere with the Taliban,’ Welna reports. ‘He also accused the U.S. of collaborating with the Taliban to stoke fears about coalition forces pulling out of Afghanistan next year.’

“The Taliban claimed responsibility for a blast outside the Afghan Defense Ministry on Saturday that killed nine people. A second bombing in eastern Khost Province, also on Saturday, killed two police officers and eight children.

“‘The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: 2014,’ Karzai said. ‘They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents.'”

More and more, it appears that the war being fought by the U.S. and its allies is destined for abject failure–as even the U.S. selected Hamid Karzai is now openly insulting America’s new Defense Secretary.

Hungary’s Authoritarian Move…

Spiegel Online reported on March 11, 2013:

“As expected, the Hungarian parliament on Monday evening passed a package of constitutional amendments that legal experts say are an affront to democracy. Berlin, Brussels and Washington all voiced their concern in the run up to the vote. Leaders in Budapest, however, were unfazed.

“Hungarian President János Áder arrived in Berlin on Monday for what might look merely like a standard bilateral meeting between two EU leaders. But the relationship between the European Union and Hungary is anything but normal these days. Budapest, after all, bid farewell on Monday to many of the values that define the 27-member club.

“Prime Minster Viktor Orbán, like Áder a member of the conservative Fidesz party, has expanded his power dramatically. While the head of state was in Berlin, the prime minister moved ahead with a highly controversial package of amendments to the country’s constitution. The amendments weaken the country’s constitutional court, the last defender of Hungary’s constitutional state, and they limit the independence of the entire judiciary branch.

“In other words, a country at the center of the European Union is moving away from the principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law…

“The reforms also write into the constitution certain laws that had previously been overturned and deemed unconstitutional by the high court, making them essentially untouchable.These include a ban on the homeless from loitering in public spaces, and allowance of the state to prosecute them for violations; a ban on electoral campaign advertising in private media; and an exclusion of umarried, childless or same-sex couples in the official definition of family.”

This is a significant stand by Hungarian legislators in rejecting European Union objections. Just how much compliance to European “values” can be extracted from Hungary in the coming weeks and months remains to be seen.

Austria Remembers

The Local wrote on March 12, 2013:

“Austria solemnly marked Tuesday 75 years since German troops crossed the border unopposed on the early hours of March 12, 1938 and ‘annexed’ Adolf Hitler’s homeland into the Third Reich.

“‘Already on the evening of March 11 swastika flags were fluttering over Vienna and other cities, including at police headquarters in Vienna … even though not a single German soldier had yet set foot on Austrian soil,’ President Heinz Fischer said at a ceremony in the capital.
“‘Soon afterwards we were pulled into World War II, with all its consequences, and Austrians were massively involved in the crimes of National Socialism. This all became part of our history, and this is still painful to this day.’
“Three days after the entry of his troops, Hitler gave a speech in Vienna – the city he had left in 1913 as a failed artist – to a jubilant crowd of 250,000 people. A plebiscite soon afterwards sealed the annexation…
“Fischer, who also laid a wreath at a monument to victims of fascism and war, said that the system of Nazi totalitarianism ‘could only come about through the cooperation of fanatics, followers and collaborators, as well as deliberately turning a blind eye.'”

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