As Pope Francis delivered an Easter Sunday message of peace, the U.S. sent out fighter jets to the Korean peninsula for military drills amid rising tensions and the danger of war.
"Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow," Pope Francis stated, speaking in Italian. He was speaking in his first Easter Sunday address since being appointed leader of the Roman Catholic Church, greeting over 250,000 people from the central balcony at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to punish North Korea for its February nuclear test, imposing a fourth round of tougher sanctions on the Asian country.
The sanction vote came hours after the country threatened a preemptive nuclear attack against the U.S.
In a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency, considered to be a mouthpiece for the state, the country argued that the United States "is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war," adding that, in response, North Korea "will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country." more >>
The Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA is calling on Christians to pray for a period of calm in Egypt in light of a volatile political atmosphere and massive protests planned for Cairo on Tuesday. Demonstrations and violence have been on the increase since President Mohammed Morsi issued a decree last Thursday that gives him more legislative power and protects his decisions from any judicial oversight.
"We as Christians need to pray that that there will not be mass killings on the scale we saw at the start of the revolution almost two years ago," Open Doors communications director Jerry Dykstra told The Christian Post Monday. "Egypt needs a period of calm, not more violence. But obviously Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have hijacked the high hopes of the revolution while increasing the persecution of Christians."
On Monday, Morsi told the nation's top judges that he did not infringe on their authority when he declared that he has near absolute powers, The Associated Press reported. A prolonged showdown between supporters and opponents of the Islamist leader appears inevitable. The large protests planned for Tuesday could be extremely intense, according to observers. more >>
An interfaith group that brings Christians and Jews together for common goals, including the support of Israel, announced on Friday that it will increase its funding of emergency aid for families in southern Israel. Rocket attacks on cities in southern Israel occurred this week and are said to be continuing as the IDF launches a wide assault on what it describes as "terror activity sites" and military infrastructure in Gaza Strip.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) said that $2.7 million in funds will go to an emergency and security aid package that includes supplies for the people in communities under fire, including Netivot, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Sdot Negev, and Eshkol.
"With 20 percent of the nation's people in bomb shelters today, improving the security of the residents of the south is a vital priority for The Fellowship," said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and CEO of The Fellowship. "The untenable situation of more than 1 million residents living under constant threat of rocket fire must top the list of concerns of every friend of Israel. We are working hand-in-hand with the Israel Ministry for Home Front Defense and the IDF, and we will continue to cooperate to ensure the security of Israel's people." more >>
A number of Christian organizations have come out with a joint statement addressing the current United Nations Arms Trade Treaty negotiations taking place, warning that time is running out and that strict new measures need to be imposed to combat the global problem.
"With thousands of people around the world killed or injured in armed violence each day, the governments' work will be judged by how many lives the treaty helps save," began the joint statement signed by members of the World Evangelical Alliance, World Council of Churches, Pax Christi International and Caritas.
More than 2,000 representatives from member states around the world are currently debating the issue and trying to come to an agreement, which is set to put a ban on, or greatly restrict arms sales in cases of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorist acts and grave human rights violations. more >>
NEW YORK – A new Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) seeking to end the illegal flow of weapons to terrorist organizations was brought to the table at during a press briefing at the United Nations on Tuesday, as diplomats from more than 100 countries meet this week to negotiate an international agreement.
Global peace and faith leaders were present at the July 3 press briefing, including a former child soldier turned bishop. The participants shared personal accounts of why world leaders and the U.S. government especially need to fully back new regulations on conventional arms and ammunition to address the growing loss of life in impoverished places affected by the illegal weapons trade.
"President Obama needs to promote this arms trade treaty. If he loves the innocent lives, women and children, then he needs to stand for this treaty, and the nation of American and all the nations of this world need to stand for this treaty," urged Bishop Elias Taban, President of the Sudan Evangelical Alliance, who shared at the briefing details of his life as a child soldier back in Sudan. more >>