NewsTue Mar 25, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Message of the Pope’s Baptism of Prominent Muslim: Be Not Afraid to Acknowledge Christianity as The
Editorial by John-Henry Westen
March 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Saturday night at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI baptized Magdi Allam, one of Italy’s most prominent Muslims who upon his conversion took the name Cristiano - which means Christian. Allam, the Deputy Director of one of Italy’s largest newspapers - Corriere della Sera - wrote of his baptism the following day, saying, "Yesterday evening I converted to the Christian Catholic religion, renouncing my previous Islamic faith . . . For me it is the most beautiful day of [my] life."
As a prominent Muslim critic of Islamic extremism and terrorism, Allam had already received many death threats and had official Islamic death warrants - fatwas - signed against him. He was thus forced to live under constant security. He underwent his very public reception into the Catholic Church with the full knowledge that it would lead to much more dire death threats. "I know what I am headed for but I face my destiny with my head held high, standing upright and with the interior solidity of one who has the certainty of his faith," he wrote.
The most important part of Allam’s Easter Sunday message, however, was the portion where he pointed out that the Pope made a "historical gesture" in personally baptizing him in a public event that would be televised worldwide. "His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries," he said.
Allam surmised that the Church was acting thus, "out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries."
While true in many cases, that fear is used as an impetus for a relativistic attitude which has been creeping into Christianity for decades. The approach sees Christianity not as the one and only truth, but one truth among many. The phenomenon also expresses itself in dealing with the various denominations within Christianity. Thus invitations to convert to Christianity - or from one denomination to another - are quietly tolerated at best, and at times openly criticized, even by those who call themselves Christian.
For instance, take the recent debacle in the Church of England over homosexuality. The result has been a fracturing of the Church of England between those who wish to remain true to the Scriptures and those who have embraced sexual immorality. A group of the faithful were looking to enter the Catholic Church en masse. The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), which may represent as many as 400,000 Anglicans, was speaking with Vatican officials about such a move.
One would think the reaction of those within the Catholic Church would be a heartfelt reception with open arms to brothers who are struggling to hold to the truth about human sexuality amidst turmoil within their denomination. Insiders reported that Pope Benedict would be pleased to receive the group; however, the reaction of one high ranking Church official spoke volumes about the relativistic attitude of many Christians.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, commented on the proposed entrance of the TAC into full communion with the Catholic Church, suggesting that the Church was resistant to the move. "We are on good terms with the Archbishop of Canterbury and as much as we can we are helping him to keep the Anglican community together," Cardinal Kasper told The Catholic Herald in a story published December 6, 2007.
When asked whether he felt encouraged by the TAC’s request, the cardinal replied: "It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome." He added, "Of course, as a Catholic I am happy if one person joins our Catholic Church but I doubt such a big group is coming - I think there are still many questions to solve first."
The question of conversion of the Jews to Christianity raises the same point. A worldwide controversy was stirred up after Pope Benedict gave general permission for the Tridentine form of the Latin Mass to be celebrated. Nominally Jewish groups - such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) - complained bitterly that praying for the conversion of the Jews was unacceptable.
The Good Friday prayers in the ‘extraordinary form’ - as the Latin liturgy is now called - contains prayers for the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. A slightly revised version issued by Pope Benedict reads: "Let us also pray for the Jews: that God our Lord might enlighten their hearts, so that they might acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior of all mankind. Let us pray. Let us bend our knees. Almighty and eternal God, whose desire it is that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, grant in your mercy that as the fullness of mankind enters into your Church, all Israel may be saved, through Christ our Lord. Amen."
A similar uproar to the Good Friday prayers occurred in the secular media when conservative pundit Ann Coulter spoke on air with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch about her desire for all people, Jews included, to become Christian. Deutsch became hysterical when Coulter tried to explain that Christianity considers itself the continuation of Judaism, and thus Christians wish followers of Judaism to complete the journey - "we want Jews to be perfected" she phrased it.
Deutsch called Coulter’s comment uneducated, "hateful and anti-Semitic" and went so far as to compare her to Iran in wishing to "wipe Israel off the earth." Again the ADL complained bitterly, calling Coulter anti-Semitic.
But why the hue and cry about Christians hoping the Jews will convert? Wouldn’t it be obvious that Christians, true Christians, who believe in and follow Christ as ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ would want all people to know the truth?
It would be obvious to true believers of any religion, but not to relativists.
Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the spokesman on moral issues for some 1000 Rabbis, explained this to me once in an interview on the Coulter kerfuffle. Rabbi Levin noted that Coulter’s remarks could not be construed as anti-Semitic and that Jews who practice their faith were not scandalized by the remarks. "The Orthodox are very comfortable in their beliefs of their religion and their practices," he said. "The Jews who would be more offended by this are those that are not involved in day to day practice of Judaism."
Michael Medved, the well known practicing Jew and movie reviewer, commented on Coulter’s remarks saying, "(A)ny American Jew who doesn’t already understand that sincere Christians want the whole world ultimately to come to Christ - including us - is an ignorant fool. Yes, Christianity believes in converting people: and most of us received that memo about 2000 years ago. The proper response to the declaration that Christians want all of humanity to become Christian shouldn’t be outrage or indignation; it ought to be, ‘Duh!’ If your friends or neighbors seek to share with you the greatest gift they’ve ever received, it’s not usually a sign that they hate you; in fact, it’s very likely an indication that they love you."
Levin pointed out moreover that true followers of Judaism, like true Christians and sincere believers in several other religions, feel they have the fullness of truth, and thus in charity hope for a day when all people will embrace the fullness of truth. He explained that especially on Jewish holidays special prayers are said, even several times a day, especially for non-Jews, that they will come to accept the truth.
All this is not to dismiss the very valid concerns over the safety and well-being of converts to Christianity from Islam. The newly baptized Cristiano Allam points out that even in Italy there are "thousands of Muslim converts to Christianity who are forced to hide their faith out of fear of being assassinated by Islamic extremists who lurk among us." He hopes that the Pope’s action and his testimony will allow Christian converts from Islam to live their faith openly. "If in Italy, in our home, the cradle of Catholicism, we are not prepared to guarantee complete religious freedom to everyone, how can we ever be credible when we denounce the violation of this freedom elsewhere in the world?" he asks.
Allam suggests, "Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims."
We must also reject the fear of public criticism and belittlement that comes from many quarters when we give public affirmation to faith in Christ. Giving in to such fear leads to a false ecumenism, which is nothing more than relativistic denial of absolute truth.
In his own Easter message delivered Sunday, Pope Benedict called on not only Christians, but all "men and women whose spirit is sincerely open to the truth," to realize that "Jesus Christ died and rose for all; he is our hope - true hope for every human being."
Welcome home Cristiano, and also to the battlefield.
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.