Terror group ISIS has said that it will behead two captured Japanese hostages unless a ransom of $200 million is paid within 72 hours. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded by vowing that his country will do all that it can to save the men from execution.
"We strongly demand the immediate release of the Japanese citizens unharmed," Abe said while speaking in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Reuters reported. "The international community needs to respond firmly and cooperate without caving into terrorism."
Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga added: "Our country's stance — contributing to the fight against terrorism without giving in — remains unchanged." more >>
Pope Francis said at the conclusion of his trip to the Philippines that he firmly stands behind the Roman Catholic Church's ban on contraceptives, but said that those who have too many children are failing to be responsible parents. The Vatican leader also spoke out against forcing the teaching of gender theory at school, comparing it to the way the Nazis indoctrinated children.
Francis backed Blessed Paul VI's stance against contraception on board the papal flight from Manila back to the Vatican, but said that "this does not mean a Christian must make children one after another," Catholic News Service reported.
The pontiff used as an example the case of a woman who became pregnant for an eighth time after having to undergo a cesarean section to give birth to her seven children. He said that such a scenario is "tempting God." more >>
A 12-year-old girl asked Pope Francis during Sunday's mass in the Philippines to explain why God allows children to suffer and experience horrible things like drugs and prostitution. Francis admitted that such a question is difficult to answer, but called on the world to offer more compassion.
"Many children are abandoned by their parents. Many children get involved in drugs and prostitution," the girl, Glyzelle Palomar, asked the pontiff, according to AFP.
"Why does God allow these things to happen to us? The children are not guilty of anything." more >>
About 7 million people, most of them drenched in rain and wearing their ponchos, gathered for an open-air Mass with Pope Francis in the Philippines on Sunday, the final full day of his weeklong trip. It was the largest-ever crowd for a papal event.
"We are not able to count all these people, obviously, or to verify this, but in any case, we have seen so many people that we believe that it is possible," Reuters quoted Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi as saying.
"If this is true, and we think it is, this is the largest event in the history of the popes," he added. more >>
Manny Pacquiao, a world-famous Filipino professional boxer, recounts in a media interview how his life changed after he heard the voice of God and saw two angels, and says he wants the world to know "there is only one way of salvation, only through Jesus Christ."
"I heard the voice of God and I saw two angels," Pacquiao, who is also a basketball player and a politician, told The Blaze in a recent interview.
"When I heard the voice of God I felt like I died. … I was in the middle of the forest and I was kneeling and praying with my face on the ground and then I saw a light, a very white light and I heard the voice," the 36-year-old boxer, who has won 10 world titles, said. more >>
Officials in Afghanistan have confirmed that the Islamic State terrorist group is present and active in the country's southern region, flying its black flags, recruiting fighters and even fighting against forces from another radical Islamic extremist group, the Taliban.
The Times of London reports that sources within the Afghanistan government have confirmed the group's existence in the southern Helmand province. General Mahmood Khan, deputy commander of the Afghan army's 215 corps, said that numerous residents have attested that they've seen ISIS representatives actively recruiting fighters.
Khan also said that he was told by many of the residents that the ISIS recruitment operation in Afghanistan is run by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mullah Abdul Rauf, who is actively offering prospective fighters decent wages if they fight for the caliph. more >>