Category: News

Katy Perry Meets Pope Francis – Reflects On Her Catholic Faith

Katy Perry Meets Pope Francis – Reflects On Her Catholic Faith

The popular singer, who was accompanied by actor Orlando Bloom, wore all black and a veiled hat in accordance with Vatican protocol. Katy Perry relates in a new interview, “My mom has prayed for me my entire life, hoping I’d come back to God.”

In a recent interview with Vogue Australia, popular singer Katy Perry reflected on the Catholic faith of her mother and the admiration she has for Pope Francis.


She met Pope Francis in April while attending the Vatican’s “United to Cure” conference, held by the Pontifical Council for Culture. Perry brought along her boyfriend, actor Orlando Bloom, and her mother.

Perry related to Vogue, “I’m such a big fan of Pope Francis. It’s a combination of compassion, humility, sternness and refusal. He is rebel – a rebel for Jesus.” She added, “[Pope Francis] is bringing the Church back to humility and connecting with people. He’s very humble and not frivolous.”


According to Perry, she and her mother have been on a spiritual re-awakening recently, especially after attending a Mass in Asia, “It started when we were on the Asia leg of the tour and I went to [M]ass with my mom…She hadn’t sung those songs in 40 years and watching her made me cry. It’s so beautiful and humbling to re-centre in a place where it’s not about anything else but reconnecting with the divine.”


Perry’s mother has also been openly praying for her daughter’s conversion.

My mom has prayed for me my entire life, hoping I’d come back to God. I never left Him, I was just a little bit secular, I was more materialistic and more career-driven. But now that I’m in my 30s, it’s more about spirituality and heart wholeness.

According to Christian Today, Perry “shared a photo of her old wrist tattoo that reads ‘Jesus’ in a social media post on Easter Sunday, just weeks after she spoke about preparing for a ‘big soul overhaul.’”

She continued, “I’m preparing myself for having a family of my own someday. And that’s the thing: I want to do a little bit more soul surgery before I have a family of my own so that I don’t transfer any of those lingering feelings.”


Why did Katy Perry wear black to meet the pope?


It is traditional and in accordance with Vatican protocol for women to wear black when meeting the pope. It is also recommended that female visitors wear a veil or mantilla, as Perry did.

While it is recommended that women wear black and men wear dark-colored suits and ties, as Perry and Bloom did, there is a separate protocol for queens of Catholic countries, and some wives of heads of states who come from Catholic countries. In these cases, women may wear white, as they have the “privilege du blanc.”

Is Their A Genocide Against Christians In Nigeria? 

Is Their A Genocide Against Christians In Nigeria? 

In Africa’s most populous country, an authentic ethnic cleansing is being perpetrated.

In a press statement published last June 29—the day of the feast of the apostles and martyrs Sts. Peter and Paul—the Catholic bishops of Nigeria once again asked President Muhammadu Buhari to step aside if he cannot guarantee peace and stability in the country, which with more than 190 million inhabitants [1] is the most populous country in all of Africa.

In the text, which was signed by the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and by the organization’s secretary, the Most. Rev. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City, and Most Rev. Camillus Umoh, Bishop of Ikot Ekpene, respectively, the Church asks the President to “save this country from further pain and avoidable chaos, anarchy, and doom.”


The bishops also note the fact that their last appeal, “like all the others before, has been completely ignored by those whose primary responsibility it is to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.”


Indeed, last April 26 in a press statement entitled “When will this barbarism end?,” the CBCN had already suggested  that Buhari present his resignation if he cannot get the situation under control. “If the President cannot keep our country safe, then he automatically loses the trust of the citizens,” the bishops said

Fulani herdsmen

What makes the CBCN question the country’s highest authority—Buhari will seek reelection in the presidential elections next year—is the leader’s unwillingness to act to put an end to violence against the Christian community of Nigeria on the part of Fulani herdsmen, a majority Islamic nomadic ethnic group (also know as the Peul, Fula, or Fulbe), most of whom are herdsmen.

The Fulani have been the protagonists in recent years of numerous attacks against Christians and/or sedentary populations, especially since the authorities of Benue State, in the Middle belt region of Nigeria, introduced last September the Anti-Open Grazing Law, which aims to protect fields and crops destroyed when the herds pass through. For the Fulani, however, the law threatens their traditional lifestyle and their principal source of sustenance.

Benue State, also nicknamed the “food basket of the nation”, is located in what is called the Middle Belt in the center of Nigeria, which separates the primarily Islamic north from the majority Christian south.

The conflict that sets the Fulani against the sedentary population “is now more deadly than the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency that has ravaged Nigeria’s northeast and is becoming a key issue in the upcoming 2019 presidential polls,” according to the Nigerian edition of the newspaper The Guardian.

A long list of attacks

The list of attacks (and, in some cases, reprisals) on the part of members of the Fulani ethnic group against Christian communities has become extensive. According to information from the Stefanos Foundation (an organization that helps persecuted Christians in Nigeria and in the rest of the world), a series of attacks on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24, 2018, have resulted in at least 233 deaths and more than 11,000 displaced people in the central state of Plateau, which for years has been the venue of bloody clashes along ethnic or religious lines. According to the site FirstAfrica News, “over 40 villages have now been completely deserted in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Area as result of continuous attacks.”


An early morning attack last April 24 against a Catholic church in the village of Mbalom, in Benue State, has provoked terror in the population; at least 18 people, including two priests, Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, were killed. The nearly 30 attackers also razed more than 60 houses.

As human beings, we are overwhelmed with sorrow, and many of us won’t recover from the shock for a long time,” explained Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, whose words, spoken during the homily for the funeral celebrated last May 22 in Ayati (Benue) were quoted by Fides.

“Now is not the time to count the number of deaths, but killing people in their churches or mosques is an offense against God,” the cardinal said. 

Onaiyekan has exhorted his fellow citizens to unite against anarchy and not to politicize the events. 

According to information from Amnesty International, from January 1 to June 27, 2018, the violence has caused at least 1,823 deaths in Nigeria, more than twice the number in 2017 (894 victims). “We are gravely concerned about the rising spate of killings across the country, especially the communal clashes between farmers and herders and attacks by bandits across at least 17 states,” declared the Director Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho.

Ethnic-religious cleansing

Behind the attacks in the southern part of Kaduna State, located in northwestern Nigeria, there hides an “Islamic agenda to drive the indigenous Christian communities out of Southern Kaduna, to ensure that Hausa-Fulani Muslims occupy the area and dominate all religious, political and socio-economic issues,” according to a study published by the Christian missionary agency Open Doors.

The report denounces the “widespread impunity” granted the perpetrators of these crimes. “To date, Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen have never been arrested, prosecuted and punished in Southern Kaduna, and victims have not been adequately compensated,” observes Open Doors.

In addition, the study goes on to say, the “government has failed to sustain inter-community engagement and dialogue as a necessary process to attaining peace and stability. If the government remains biased, there is every likelihood that the conflict will continue and that Christians will be forced to leave the area and relocate — an example of ‘religious cleansing’ (i.e. ethnic cleansing based on religious affiliation).”


Although it doesn’t rule out other motives, including environmental degradation and climate change—sufficiently illustrated by the agony of Lake Chad, the area of which has drastically diminished (by 90 percent in less than half a century) [2]—in an earlier study, Open Doors had already proposed the thesis of a planned persecution of Christians in Benue State.

Genocide

That fact that there might be a strategy or plan behind the violence inspires some people to use the term “genocide.” What is happening in Plateau State and in other states in Nigeria is “pure genocide,” writes the Christian Post, reporting on a press release published on June 29 by the heads of various denominations of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Plateau State.

“We reject the narrative that the attacks on Christian communities across the country as ‘farmers/herdsmen clash,’” says the declaration, which speaks of “false propaganda” and “deceit” by the government. “There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage,” the document continues, denouncing in turn the impunity enjoyed by the Fulani herdsmen.

Indeed, while a court in Adamawa State condemned five young Christians to death for having attacked three herdsmen, one of whom was killed, up until now the armed herdsmen—some even with AK-47 assault rifles, also known as Kalashnikovs—are left undisturbed.

In a Twitter message, the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, expressed his incredulity at the sentence, and asked if “Nigeria is an apartheid state where the herdsmen are above the law.” According to the Daily Post, Fani-Kayode also commented that “no Fulani herdsman has been reprimanded or jailed for killing more than 5,300 Christians in 2018.”


Although Buhari and his vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, visited Plateau State after the recent attacks, the question remains whether the president, who is ethnically Fulani, is willing to go beyond what the declaration of the CAN denominational leaders defines as a pure “cosmetics”.

Without a doubt, Nigeria is at a watershed moment. “Please don’t make the same mistake we made with the genocide in Rwanda. It happened under our noses, but no one stopped it. And we know well how that ended,” said the bishop of Gboko in Benue State, Bishop William Amove Avenya, to Aid to the Church in Need “We are convinced that what is happening is an ethnic cleansing of Christians,” he said.

*

1] To have an idea: with more than 190 million inhabitants, the population of Nigeria is more than half that of the United States of America (which has a population of approximately 325 million people). 

From an European perspective, the Nigerian population surpasses that of Germany (82.2 million), Italy (60.6 million), and Spain (46.6 million) put together. The entire European Union has a little more than 500 million inhabitants.

Source: 

aleteia

Dubai’s ‘Rebel Princess’ Whereabouts Still Unknown. 

Dubai’s ‘Rebel Princess’ Whereabouts Still Unknown. 

‘If you’re watching this I’m either dead or in a very bad situation’: Video released of Dubai’s ‘rebel princess’ reveals claims of torture after she tried to escape her father’s regime.

She was born into a life of wealth and privilege but a failed attempt at freedom has left people wondering if she is even alive.

Four-and-a-half months ago, ‘daredevil royal’ Sheikha Latifa bin Mohammad al-Maktoum fled the United Arab Emirates and the controlling clutches of her father – Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The 32-year-old princess spent months planning the dramatic escape that, before it came to abrupt end, saw her leave the UAE on board a luxury yacht owned by a former French spy.  

Activists and allies claim armed commandos stormed the yacht after it had reached international waters, beat up the crew and dragged the princess back to Dubai.

She has not been heard from since.  

In a candid video released by human rights activists after the alleged kidnapping the princess said she first attempted to escape from her home country in 2002 but was detained and tortured for more than three years.

‘It was constant torture,’ she says in the video.

‘Even when they weren’t physically beating me up, they would torture me.

‘I was in solitary confinement by myself, totally, and there’s no windows, there’s no light.’

In the 40-minute video she hits out at the UAE’s more progressive image and says that if the video has been publicised she is in danger. 

Pretty soon I’m going to be leaving somehow and I’m not so sure of the outcome but I’m 99 per cent positive it will work,’ the woman says. 

If you are watching this video it’s not such a good thing — either I’m dead or I’m in a very, very bad situation,’ she said.  

The video was released by ‘Detained’ in Dubai, a British organisation that assists people with legal problems in the UAE.

In an interview with 60 Minutes, the Australian founder of ‘Detained’ in Dubai, Rhada Sterling, said the Princess called her as the yacht was being boarded by armed men. 

The first thing she said ‘Help me, there’s people outside … I can hear gunshots. Please help me’, she said.  

Tiina Jauhianien, the princess’ best friend, was on the boat when the alleged kidnapping took place.

She had helped plan the dangerous journey and now acts as one of the only witnesses to the event.  

They (the commandos) were telling me, ‘close your eyes, or we’ll shoot you right here. Take your last breath now’,’ Ms Jauhianien said.

‘She was kicking and screaming, and she was fighting for her life.’

Ms Jauhianien described the princesses life in Dubai as repressive. She says she had curfews and was always looking over her shoulder.

After the failed escape, Ms Jauhianien and Herve Jaubert, the former French spy who had helped them plan the escape and was the skipper of the yacht, were thrown into a  Dubai jail. 

Ms Stirling said if Princess Latifa’s video hadn’t been released to the media, it could have been the end of them.   

In a statement released in March, Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson called on UAE authorities to immediately reveal the whereabouts of Sheikha Latifa.

‘UAE authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of Sheikha Latifa, confirm her status, and allow her contact with the outside world.

‘If she is detained she needs to be given the rights all detainees should have, including being taken before an independent judge.’

While the UAE remained tight-lipped regarding her whereabouts and wellbeing unofficial reports have leaked out that she is safely back with her family.  

In the meantime, her friends and supporters are hoping that more public exposure will force the truth to surface.  

If the allegations surrounding her disappearance prove to be true they will no doubt impact the UAE’s standing, and the reputation of her father Sheik Mohammed.

France Vs. Croatia: Two Powerful Catholic Nations To Battle For The World Cup 

France Vs. Croatia: Two Powerful Catholic Nations To Battle For The World Cup 

Who Will Win The World Cup? 

On Sunday July 15, France and Croatia will square off on the soccer pitch for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Championship. While most U.S. Catholics are only casual soccer fans, many will join more than 3 billion people around the world who are expected to watch the game.

What team will U.S. Catholics root for as two historically Catholic countries face off?

If you’re still undecided, perhaps a comparison of the Catholic life, history, and culture of France and Croatia would be helpful:

Catholic roots

Croatia:

During the time Jesus lived in Palestine, Croatia, along with the rest of the Balkan Peninsula, was a part of the Roman Empire- most of it a part of the Roman province of Dalmatia.

Located along the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatia, which was also sometimes referred to as Illyricum, an older Greek name, was home to Roman subjects and their religions from across the Empire. At the time Jesus lived, there was a Jewish population in the region. Some members of the Jewish community became Christians during the earliest periods of Christian evangelization.

Scripture records that Titus, a disciple of St. Paul, travelled to Dalmatia, and he might have died there. The region is mentioned in St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy.

Some old traditions hold that St. Paul might have gone to Dalmatia too, since he wrote in the Letter to the Romans about visiting “Illyricum,” but he probably was referring to a part of Greece close to modern-day Albania.

The Croatian people, who migrated to the Dalmatian region in the 6th century, probably followed tribal religions until natives to the region, along with Byzantine and Benedictine missionaries, some from France, converted them to Catholicism. By the 9th century, Croats could be considered a Christian people, and, by the end of that century, Croatian nobility had begun pledging their allegiance to the pope.

France:

France is often referred to as the “eldest daughter of the Church,” because of the long and faithful history of the Catholic Church there.

There are many early legends that connect France and New Testament figures. One such legend says that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were exiled from Israel and travelled by boat to France’s Mediterranean coast. Still another says that Lazarus was the first bishop of Marseille, and that he is buried in Burgundy. Some such legends say that Mary Magdalene is the sister of Lazarus and she made the trip, and then lived for 40 years in a cave in Provence — France’s famous madeleine cookies are sometimes said to be named for Mary Magdalene.

The earliest non-legendary record of the Church in France begins in the 2nd century, when 48 Catholics, included the Bishop of Lugdunum, were martyred in Lyon, which was then part of the Roman province of Gaul.

Most French people consider King Clovis I to be the founder of France. Clovis converted from paganism, and was baptized on Christmas Day in 496 by Saint Remy. Clovis’ baptism is considered to be the foundational moment of western Christendom.

The point:

Croatia is mentioned in the Bible. While France is the Church’s eldest daughter, any place mentioned in Scripture has a strong claim on ancient Christian roots. This point goes to Croatia.

Saints

Croatia:

Croatia’s patron saint is St. Joseph. You can’t do much better than that. Unless your patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary. France’s patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary, in addition to several other saints.

St. Jerome was born in the region of Dalmatia. So was St. Marko Krizin, a priest of the Counter-reformation, and St Leopold Mandic, a pious Capuchin missionary. St. Nicholas Tavelic was a Croatian Franciscan, who was martyred in 1391 in Jerusalem after refusing to convert to Islam, along with 3 Franciscan companions.

In 2003, Pope St. John Paul II dedicated a church to the Croatian martyrs, soldiers who were slaughtered by invading Ottoman forces in the 15th century. Hundreds of thousands of other Croats have faced martyrdom and persecution, and died holy deaths in discipleship of Jesus Christ.

France:

St. Joan of Arc. St. John Vianney. St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Remy. St. Denis. St. Peter Faber. St. Isaac Jogues. St. Louis IX of France. St. Vincent de Paul. I’m really just getting warmed up. This category is going to France.


The point:

In its long history, Croatia has presumably given the Church many holy men and women, but many of them remain unknown. Over the centuries, the holy people of central European countries have not gained as much attention as those from western Europe. This is unfortunate. But France has a lot of saints. A lot. France gets the point.

Cathedrals

Croatia:

The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is stunning. Beautiful. A gothic-style cathedral built in the 1200s, and restored in the 1880s. There are barricades around the cathedral that were built in the 1400s to hold back Ottoman invaders. Those same barricades held back the Ottomans in another invasion attempt 200 years later. Zagreb’s cathedral has also survived an earthquake. It’s a gem for the entire Church.

France:

The cathedral at Chartres is considered to be the highpoint of Gothic art and architecture. Its stained glass is world famous. It has been imitated around the world. Built in the late twelfth century, it has been restored several times. During World War II, an American colonel snuck behind German lines to ensure it was not being occupied by the Germans. His heroism ensured that the building was not bombed by the Allies.

The point:

Chartres is famous. Zagreb’s cathedral should be more famous. One is considered the high-point of European architecture. The other held back hordes of Ottoman invaders. People hate that soccer has ties, but this is a soccer story, and this category is a tie.

The Score: Croatia 1, France 1.

So what team will Catholics root for? The Church’s “eldest daughter,” or the team whose coach loves the rosary?

Game on.

Source:

CNA/EWTN

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