May 26 - June 1, 2008 
 Weekly News In Review
 Vol 3, Issue 18
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The Weekly News In Review newsletter is a service provided by Understand The Times that is a compilation of the news articles posted on our site during the previous week.


 May 23 - Christianity is the most profound revolution in history, Pope declares
 Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

In his homily, the Pontiff declared that the unity brought about in the Eucharist shows that the Christian revolution is the most profound revolution in human history.

Benedict XVI dedicated his homily at St. John Lateran to explaining how the significance of Corpus Christi can be seen in the three events of the evening. Firstly "our coming together around the altar of the Lord to be together in His presence," secondly "the procession, walking with the Lord," and finally "kneeling before the Lord in adoration."

In these words," said the Pope, "we feel the truth and the power of the Christian revolution, the most profound revolution in human history, which we may experience in the Eucharist where people of different ages, sexes, social conditions and political ideas come together in the presence of the Lord."

"The Eucharist can never be a private matter," explained Pope Benedict.  "The Eucharist is public worship, which has nothing esoteric or exclusive about it. ... We remain united, over and above our differences, ... we open to one another in order to become a single thing in Him."

"Walking with the Lord" was the second aspect of the celebrations that the Pope discussed. The chance to accompany Jesus in the Eucharist allows us to reflect on how He in fact, "raises us up again .. and puts us on the journey with the power of this Bread of life. ... The procession of Corpus Christi teaches us that the Eucharist wants to free us from all distress and discomfort ... so that we can resume the journey with the strength God gives us in Jesus Christ," the Holy Father said.

Moreover, "Without the God-with-us, the God Who is near, how can we sustain the pilgrimage of life, either individually or as a society or a family of peoples?" asked the Pope. "The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the God who does not leave us to journey alone, but puts Himself at our side and shows us the way.

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 May 25 - Open up if you want more cyclone aid, Myanmar told
 Article: Misc.

YANGON (Reuters) - Western nations led by the United States urged Myanmar on Sunday to fulfill its promise to admit all relief workers, saying outside audits of the damage left by Cyclone Nargis were needed before they promised more aid.

In a gesture of conditional goodwill to an army-run country it deems an "outpost of tyranny," Washington said it was ready to offer more than the $20.5 million of aid sent after the May 2 cyclone that left 134,000 people dead or missing and another 2.4 million destitute. "However, in order to do so, the government must allow international disaster assistance experts to conduct thorough assessments of the situation," U.S. envoy to southeast Asia Scot Marciel told a cyclone aid conference in the former capital.

Three weeks after Nargis pounded the Irrawaddy delta, the United Nations says three in four of those most in need have yet to receive any help -- and that hunger and disease could send the death toll soaring if the situation does not change.

The disaster, one of the worst cyclones ever to hit Asia, has forced the former Burma's reclusive generals to talk to the outside world but they have managed only in part to overcome their innate distrust of anything foreign.

However, aid workers said the overall picture was still murky. "So far it's been bits and pieces. We don't even know what aid the government has delivered, so we can't draw any conclusions," one European aid official in Yangon said.

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 May 23 - The destiny of China and its Church are in Mary's hands, says Cardinal Zen
 Article: Roman Catholic Chruch And The Last Days

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China which we celebrate tomorrow is a great day. We entrust the destiny of China and its Church in the hands of Our Lady on this day for She likes us and is very powerful. Since the situation in China is not as optimistic as some might believe, Our Lady is our only hope to tear down walls and touch hearts.

Here in Hong Kong we prepared ourselves for the Pope's Day of Prayer with a novena in every parish church dedicated to Mary. There are about 15 across the territory and each evening the faithful of each parish and those from neighbouring parishes met to pray. Tomorrow we shall end the novena by gathering in the church dedicated to Mary, Help of Christians. Since it is also the eve of the Corpus Domini we shall also perform the Eucharistic procession. These are days of great participation.

It seems to me that these two approaches come from different levels. Positive signs come from the top leadership; negative ones come from lower down the hierarchy. The latter fear that normalising relations between China and the Vatican might cut into their existing advantages and so they do all they can to stand in the way. The Lord and Our Lady shall however win.

What we are hoping for is a spiritual victory that ultimately benefits everyone. When Our Lady wins, everyone wins.

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 May 26 - Ahmadinejad sure Syria will press struggle against Israel
 Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

TEHRAN (AFP) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that he remains confident Iran's close ally Syria will keep up the struggle against Israel despite its announcement of renewed peace negotiations.
"I am sure that the Syrian leadership will manage the situation with wisdom and will not abandon the front line until the complete removal of the Zionist threats," Ahmadinejad told visiting Syrian Defence Minister Hassan Turkmani.

Ahmadinejad stressed that Iran would continue its longstanding policy of supporting "the oppressed Palestinian people." Supporting the Palestinian people means supporting regional security, as the Palestinians are in the front line of the Zionists' aggression," he said.

It "re- emphasises that Iran-Syria ties have not faded or weakened despite the indirect Israeli-Syrian talks," said Mosayeb Naiemi, chief editor of Iran's Arabic-language government newspaper, Al-Vefagh.

Naiemi recalled the military cooperation agreement the two governments had signed in 2006 and insisted that the alliance was "not going to be affected by some seasonal winds."

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 May 24 - Rick Warren and 1,700 Leaders Launch the Peace Coalition at Purpose Driven Summit
 Article: Misc.

LAKE FOREST, Calif., May 24 /Christian Newswire/ -- Over 1,700 leading pastors, business and Christian institutional leaders from 39 countries and all 50 states gathered in Lake Forest, California, May 20-22, to create The PEACE Coalition, a new international alliance of churches, businesses, ministries, universities, and other institutions. 

The launch of the PEACE Coalition occurred at a three day Purpose Driven Network Summit hosted by Saddleback Church where Dr. Rick Warren is the founding pastor. The coalition will cooperate in a global mission strategy called the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, which is a massive, long range effort to mobilize one billion Christians in local churches around the world to copy Jesus' model of ministry.

At a post-summit press conference, Warren pointed out that the size and complexity of the P.E.A.C.E. Coalition's objective would likely take decades to accomplish. "We usually set goals too low and try to reach them too quickly," he said. "Instead we should set God honoring goals in faith, and then invest the rest of our lives working toward them. This plan could take 50 years so it might not be completed in my lifetime. That's why I call the next generation the Reformation Generation."

During the summit, Warren outlined how the P.E.A.C.E. Plan is both a framework and a network for global mission.

"The P.E.A.C.E. Plan just follows the instructions Jesus gave to his 70 'amateurs' in Matthew 10 and Luke 10 when he sent teams into villages," Warren said. "It is Jesus' framework for ministry, not ours." 

"First and foremost, the P.E.A.C.E. Plan is about reclaiming the primacy of the local church's role in global missions; to me, that is worthy of a reformation," Warren said, "Those other wonderful ministries do incredible work, but their capacity is miniscule compared to the potential of a worldwide network of local churches. Besides, in the New Testament model, Paul, Barnabus and others were sent out by a local church."

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 May 23 - Preaching 'Sound Doctrine' in an Age that Avoids It
 Article: Misc.

Doctrine isn't a popular word among Christians today. Some church leaders avoid the topic when preaching from the pulpit because it tends to divide.

But the 37-year- old pastor has his theological convictions and wants both non-Christians and Christians alike to know the core truth claims of Christianity.

Driscoll, who recently opened a sixth Mars Hill Church campus, says he is not a fundamentalist, noting that he's okay with a believer smoking or getting a tattoo. His six churches are also largely adapted to the culture in Seattle in terms of worship style, casual dress and service times. But when a person, especially an influential Christian leader, questions or undermines the essential doctrines of Christianity, Driscoll "freaks out."

"I get a nervous eye twitch," he said this week while attending the Purpose Driven Network Summit at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. He's also not pleased when preachers leave out doctrine and Jesus from sermons.

"So much preaching today is about seven steps to this, four steps to that, 13 steps to this. I'm totally fine if you want to have a great marriage [or] improve your business," Driscoll said. "But at the end of the day, are people learning about who Jesus is and what he's done?"

At Mars Hill Church, attendants are required to take "Gospel Class," which teaches Christian truths, in order to become members of the church. Driscoll admitted that half the people that have taken the class have gone on to become members while the other half left over disagreements with various doctrines. The current sermon series on doctrine will replace "Gospel Class" to facilitate church membership for thousands of people.

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 May 25 - Arab paper: Iran to give Hamas more arms, funds
 Article: Israel And The Last Days

Iran has promised Hamas new rockets and more funds, an expression of the Islamic Republic's displeasure with recent news of renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks, the London-based newspaper, Asharq Alawsat reported on Sunday.
Mashaal reportedly told his Iranian hosts that despite commitments he was given by Damascus that peace with Israel would not come at the expense of Syria's ties with Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, he was still aware of the fact that Syria would have to make some concessions.

He emphasized that he understood that Syria could not sign a peace agreement with Israel, exchange ambassadors, end the state of war and make the Golan Heights demilitarized and at the same time continue to allow Iran to use its territory to transfer weapons to Hizbullah, train Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists and help in the financing of those groups.

An Iranian source told the paper that in light of Mashaal's fears, Iranian regime officials promised the head of Hamas's political bureau that Iran would continue supporting Hamas financially, materially and morally, even if Syria would turn its back on the organization for the sake of an agreement with Israel.

According to the source, the Iranians had even elaborated what that support would be: Newer, upgraded rockets and an increase in the budget allotted to Hamas to $150 million in the second half of 2008.

Labeling Syria a strategic ally of Iran, Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammed Nejad called on "Islamic states to strengthen their relations in order to defend themselves against the dangers which threaten the region."

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 May 26 - Jim Wallis: Faith Succeeding Where Politics Has Failed
 Article: Social Gospel

LONDON - In an era of broken politics and bad religion, faith is making a serious comeback as a force for social change, says Christian author and speaker Jim Wallis.

Speaking at the U.K. launch of his new book, "Seven Ways to Change the World," in central London Sunday night, Wallis said Christianity is reviving and that it is time for Christians to answer the two great spiritual hungers of the world today - the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social justice.The connection between the two is the one the world is waiting for," he said.

Wallis painted a positive picture, however, of Christianity coming back from the margins as the answer to some of the world's biggest challenges, including poverty, human trafficking, environmental degradation and amoral culture.

"Politics is broken. Politics is failing to address the great moral issues of the time. When that happens, social movements rise up to change politics and the best social movements always have spiritual foundations," he said.

In an age where Christians no longer hold power in society, Christians "are going to have to demonstrate faith," he continued.

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 May 26 - Rick Warren Launches Coalition to Combat Five 'Global Giants'
 Article: Social Gospel

LAKE FOREST, Calif. - Megachurch pastor Rick Warren recently launched a global coalition of pastors, business leaders and other institutions that aims to tackle what he deems as the most pervasive problems in the world today.

The P.E.A.C.E. Coalition will be an international alliance of churches, businesses, ministries, universities, and other institutions who will work together to address five "Global Giants" that affect billions of people worldwide: spiritual emptiness, lack of servant leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, and illiteracy.

"I am confident about the P.E.A.C.E. Plan because it's not my plan. It's not a Westerner plan. It's not a megachurch plan. It's Jesus' plan," he told 1,700 pastors and Christian leaders during the May 20-22 conference.

Although the initiative is known as a "plan," Warren refers to it as a "network of networks" that links public, private and church sectors.

In the network, the local church takes center stage in directing participating groups to produce a collaborative response to the problems. It goes beyond the parachurch ministry model where people "pay, pray, and stay out of the way," according to Warren.

At the conference last week, Warren said he hopes around 500 churches will participate in the launch and eventually train others who enlist later on. Ultimately, said Warren, the goal is to mobilize 1 billion Christians worldwide to participate.

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 May 30 - Blair Launches Faith Foundation to Overcome Global Problems
 Article: One World Religion

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a faith foundation Friday to confront the growing challenges of religious conflict and to mobilize churches to tackle global poverty.
Blair, who converted to Roman Catholicism in December, launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation at the Time Warner headquarters in New York. He said the Foundation has three goals: to promote faith as a force of good, improve knowledge between religions, and to tackle poverty and war, according to BBC.

"In an era of globalization, there is nothing more important than getting people of different faiths and cultures to understand each other better and live in peace and mutual respect; and to give faith itself its proper place in the future," Blair said in a statement before Friday's launch. As there is more "inter-dependence" in the world people need to co- exist and work together to solve problems, he said.

In its first three years, the Foundation plans to give priority to interfaith initiatives to tackle global poverty and to improve understanding between religious groups through education, according to Reuters.

"By stressing the values of respect, justice and compassion which the great religions hold in common, he believes faith can help unite the world and shape its direction for the better."

The foundation aims to build up a "war chest" of hundreds of millions of dollars to fund projects to tackle global poverty, such as an anti- malaria campaign, according to Time magazine. It also seeks to support the U.N. Millennium Development Goals which seeks to tackle the world's biggest problems, such as poverty and lack of education.

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We hope the Weekly News In Review has been a blessing to you.

In Jesus,
Roger Oakland

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