Prince Charles said Tuesday that organized persecution of Christians in the Middle East has reached a "crisis" point and that Christianity is in danger of disappearing from its birthplace, which would result in the world losing something "irreplaceably precious."
"It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ," the Prince of Wales said at an Advent reception for Middle East Christians.
"Today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four percent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further," he continued. more >>
Recently released videos by UN Children's Fund UNICEF feature Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa and Gandhi in humorous "dinner party" conversations meant to encourage people to click banner ads and contribute toward life-saving medical supplies for children.
The videos, titled "The Good Guys Christmas," center around the premise of three of history's most recognizable figures, recalling the good deeds they have done for the world. They are joined by an average Joe who reveals that he was invited to this special party all because he clicked on Internet banners leading to UNICEF's Swedish page allowing online users to purchase vital medicines and other supplies for needy children around the world.
"So basically, you starved yourself for the sake of the people. That was so nice of you," Mother Teresa compliments Gandhi in one of the videos, sitting around a dinner table. more >>
A Girl Guides group in Newcastle, Great Britain, is refusing to drop "God" from its pledge and could face loss of national recognition from the youth organization if it refuses to comply with new rules.
Glynis Mackie, the leader of the church-based Newcastle troop, known as the 37th Newcastle Guide Unit at Jesmond Parish Church, said she recently received a letter from the national organization threatening her group would be dropped from recognition if she continues to allow "God" to be referenced in the girls' pledge.
Beginning in September, the country's female youth organization, which is the English equivalent to Girl Scouts in the U.S., dropped a reference to God from its oath. The new pledge drops all references to God and country but maintains allegiance to the Queen of England, the youth organization's sponsor. "I promise that I will do my best: to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the (Brownie) Guide Law," reads the new oath. more >>
Amanda Knox told the Italian court in a "highly unusual" email that she didn't rape or kill British student Meredith Kercher in 2007, but refused to show up for the hearing due to fears that she would be wrongly convicted.
"I am not in court because I am afraid. I am afraid that the vehemence of the prosecution will make an impression on you, that their smoke will get in your eyes and blind you," Knox, 26, said in the email to the court, the Associated Press reported. "I am not afraid of your powers of discernment, but because the prosecution has succeeded already in convincing a court comprised of responsible and perceptive adults to convict innocent people, Raffaele and me."
The long-standing case has gone through several twists and turns, leading to several books and a movie being developed on the subject. Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were initially acquitted in 2011 after spending four years in prison for their hand in the murder of Knox's flatmate, Kercher, in 2007 in Perugia, Italy. Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede was instead convicted in October 2008 of having sexually assaulted and murdered the British student. more >>
Pope Francis responded to criticism from U.S. conservatives, including from radio host Rush Limbaugh, spelling out his stand on Marxism, and declaring categorically he's not a Marxist. The pope was accused of promoting Marxism.
"Marxist ideology is wrong," the pope told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview published Saturday. "But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don't feel offended," he added.
Conservatives in the United States had criticized the pope about an apostolic exhortation from November. Francis wrote: "As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems." more >>
The Guardian newspaper has issued a clarification and apology for a September 2013 report on a documentary titled "Mission Congo" that revisited allegations of fraud against Pat Robertson. The British publication admits that its inaccurate report failed to cite that the allegations against Robertson and his Operation Blessing charity had been declared unsubstantiated years ago.
In the "Corrections and clarifications" page of its website, The Guardian notes:
An Apology: In an article entitled "Mission Congo: how Pat Robertson raised millions on the back of a non-existent aid project" we claimed that Pat Robertson ran an almost non-existent aid effort in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Operation Blessing actually sent six medical relief teams to Zaire, between July and December 1994, and arranged for 66,000lb of medicines and supplies to arrive in Goma on an aircraft it chartered from Amsterdam. more >>