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Weekly News In Review
December 11 - 17, 2005
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The following articles were posted at
www.understandthetimes.org this past week:
Pope Invites Methodists to Join Catholic-Lutheran Agreement
Bob Larson Is Going to the Vatican
School Okays 'Christmas Witch,' Menorahs; Rewrites 'Silent Night'
Mice Created With Human Brain Cells
Faithful Claim Miracles Coming From Weeping Mary
Russia to Boost New Weapons Spending
Iran: We Could Win Nuke War
Article: Ecumenical Movement - Protestants Uniting with
December 10, 2005 - Pope Invites
Methodists to Join Catholic-Lutheran Agreement
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Methodist
leaders on Friday (Dec. 9) to join a landmark 1999 agreement
between Lutherans and the Vatican that overcame centuries of
disagreement on the nature of salvation. In his first
official meeting with top-ranking officials of the World
Methodist Council (WMC), Benedict urged the council to
endorse the Joint Declaration, a 1999 Catholic-Lutheran
accord on how humankind achieves salvation.
"Should the World Methodist Council express its intent to
associate itself with the Joint Declaration, it would assist
in contributing to the healing and reconciliation we
ardently desire, and would be a significant step towards the
stated goal of full visible unity in faith," Benedict told
the delegation led by WMC President Bishop Sunday Mbang of
Martin Luther sparked the 16th century Protestant
Reformation by challenging the Catholic doctrine of
"justification," which holds that good works are essential
to attaining salvation. Lutherans held that salvation was
God-given and achieved by faith alone.
In the 1999 compromise, both sides agreed that salvation is
achieved through God's grace, which is reflected in good
Bishop Michael Putney, a Vatican negotiator for
Catholic-Methodist relations, said he expects the council to
endorse the declaration at its worldwide conference in
Seoul, South Korea, next summer.
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Article: Ecumenical Movement - Misc.
December 11, 2005 - Bob Larson Is Going
to the Vatican
|I have always
expressed my appreciation for the way the Catholic Church
has maintained the tradition of exorcism. Even the late Pope
John Paul II performed at least three known exorcisms, one
in St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. While many Protestants
have shied away from embracing deliverance through exorcism,
Catholics have kept the practice alive. The way that
Catholics do exorcism has some differences as to style, but
the basic fundamentals are the same. In fact, I have
encouraged our Do What Jesus Did (DWJD) healing and
deliverance teams to read the Rituale Romanum, the ancient
Catholic rite of exorcism. It is filled with majestic,
biblical language that boldly confronts Satan and his
Of course, as a Protestant and evangelical Christian I have
some theological differences with Catholics. But I've always
made it a practice to embrace all Christians who share a
common faith in Christ and a desire to defeat the works of
the devil. I stand alongside my Catholic brothers in Christ
who dare to do what many Protestants won't do - cast out
demons! I believe in the Last Days before the return of
Jesus Christ that all those who believe in spiritual warfare
need to join together as a worldwide spiritual army,
regardless of our theological differences. That's why this
breakthrough is such an answer to prayer.
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Article: Perilous Times
December 8, 2005 - School Okays
'Christmas Witch,' Menorahs; Rewrites 'Silent Night'
Lyrics 'Mock' Christian Christmas Carols, Says Liberty
The "war against Christmas" rages on...The school's "Winter
Program" features a secularized version of the traditional
Christmas carol "Silent Night" with the following lyrics:
Cold in the night, no one in sight;
Winter winds whirl and bite.
How I wish I were happy and warm,
Safe with my family out of the storm.
"At the same time the school has changed the religious songs
to secular," Staver says, "their so-called 'Winter Program'
has included decorating classrooms with Santa Claus,
Kwanzaa, menorahs, and even Labafana -- a term I'd not even
heard of until this year." Labafana, he says, is "apparently
a Christmas witch."
"Our opponents in this Christmas campaign are not debating
us anymore on the law," he admits. "They agree with us that
the law allows Christmas. They are trying to say that, in
fact, there's no problem going on in America."
The Liberty Counsel president says the law is clear that
Christmas is constitutional. But he notes that "when a
public school intentionally mocks Christian Christmas songs
by secularizing their content, they cross the line from a
neutral position -- which the Constitution requires -- to a
hostile position, which the Constitution forbids."
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Article: Cloning and Genetic Engineering
December 13, 2005 - Mice Created With
Human Brain Cells
creation to the strange scientific menagerie where animal
species are being mixed together in ever more exotic
combinations. Scientists announced Monday that they had
created mice with small amounts of human brain cells in an
effort to make realistic models of neurological disorders
such as Parkinson's disease.
Led by Fred Gage of the Salk Institute in San Diego, the
researchers created the mice by injecting about 100,000
human embryonic stem cells per mouse into the brains of
14-day-old rodent embryos. Those mice were each born with
about 0.1 percent of human cells in each of their heads, a
trace amount that doesn't remotely come close to
"humanizing" the rodents.
"This illustrate that injecting human stem cells into mouse
brains doesn't restructure the brain," Gage said. Still,
work adds to the growing ethical concerns of mixing human
and animal cells when it comes to stem cell and cloning
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Article: Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days
December 13, 2005 - Faithful Claim
Miracles Coming From Weeping Mary
|Nearly 4 weeks
since a statue outside an area church appeared to be crying
tears of blood, many of the catholic faithful say they're
beginning to see miracles. They're reporting everything from
improved health to resolved legal problems. Something that's
drawing even more visitors to the church.
Where they once came out of curiosity, they now come with
individual concerns. Their hearts heavy with burdens they
plan to leave at the alter, in hopes the Virgin Mary will
hear their prayers.
"I do believe in God and I do believe in miracles and I
believe this is a stepping stone to a miracle. It will
happen", says one believer.
Since tears of blood first appeared on this statue outside
the Vietnamese Catholic Martyr's church in late November,
many of the faithful say their prayers and petitions are
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Article: Wars and Rumors of Wars
December 15, 2005 - Russia to Boost New
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on
Wednesday that 70 percent of next year's state defense order
would be spent on the procurement of new armaments and
military hardware, the Interfax news agency reported.
"The state defense order will amount to 237 billion rubles
($8.27 billion) next year, which is nearly 54 billion rubles
($1.88 billion) more than this year. This will allow the
spending of 70 percent of the funds on the procurement of
new armaments and military hardware or comprehensive
upgrades of the hardware currently available in military
units," Ivanov told reporters in Moscow.
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Article: Wars and Rumors of Wars
December 16, 2005 - Iran: We Could Win
ruler Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said last
Friday that the Muslim world would win a nuclear exchange
with Israel, aggravating fears Tehran's quest for atomic
weapons indeed has one purpose: the annihilation of what it
calls the Zionist "cancer."
"[The] application of an atomic bomb would not leave
anything in Israel - but the same thing would just produce
damages in the Muslim world," Hashemi-Rafsanjani was quoted
as saying by the government-controlled Iran Press Service.
The spiritual leader, who wields ultimate power in Iran,
made the comments during a prayer service in Tehran. It was
the first time an Islamic leader of such prominence openly
suggested a nuclear attack against the Jewish state, media
analysts told the IPS.
Iran has been pursuing atomic weapons in defiance of
Concerns over Iran's nuclear efforts grew exponentially last
month when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a conference
in Tehran that Israel should be "wiped off the map."
In an interview with Ynet Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister
Silvan Shalom said he has no doubt Iran will act to
completely destroy the Jewish state if its nuclear program
is not halted.
Iran's leaders are "saying very clearly what the Iranians
will do if they have a nuclear bomb â€" they would like to
destroy the State of Israel," Shalom said.
Speaking to Fox News a day earlier, US President George W.
Bush said his administration also views Iran as a true
existential threat to the Jewish state.
"I'm concerned about a theocracy that has got little
transparency, a country whose president has declared the
destruction of Israel as part of their foreign policy, and a
country that will not listen to the demands of the free
world to get rid of its ambitions to have a nuclear weapon,"
Bush told his interviewer.
"I called it part of the 'axis of evil' for a reason," the
But neither Israel nor the US are keen to utilize military
force in order to thwart Iran's destructive intentions, and
have therefore turned to Europe, which enjoys amicable ties
with Tehran, to diplomatically resolve the issue.
European officials vowed to deal with Iran's worrying
behavior at a European Union summit that opened in Brussels
Thursday, warning that the continent's patience with Tehran
is wearing thin.
However, the most serious punitive diplomatic measure being
discussed is Iran's exclusion from the 2006 World Cup soccer
tournament scheduled to take place in Germany next summer.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuval
Steinitz insists the solution lies in the threat of "brute
Steinitz told CNS News Thursday he recently conveyed to
officials in Washington that Iran can be prevented from
obtaining nuclear weapons without the use of force, but only
if the West is prepared to make it clear to Tehran that it
is in fact prepared to use overwhelming military force.
"It's the only chance [to make them back down]," Steinitz
said, warning that "if Iran becomes a nuclear power, it will
become a global nuclear superpower."
But Tehran has been hearing and defying Western threats for
years. How the US and Europe could now convince Iran of
their seriousness without actually initiating armed
hostilities remains unclear.
Meanwhile, a report published by the US Army War College
this week said neither military nor diplomatic efforts were
going to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program.
Entitled "Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran", the
report pointed out that "given Iran's extensive nuclear
know-how and capabilities, it is unlikely that the United
States or its allies can deny Iran the technical ability to
covertly make nuclear weapons."
The authors instead suggested that Israel try to set an
example by first dismantling its nuclear capabilities.
They admitted, however, that Iran would likely not follow
suit, leaving Israel without a deterrent in the crosshairs
of a regime with both the desire and the means to annihilate
the Jewish state.
The suggestion smacked of the traditional Western position
that Israel risk the lives of millions of its Jewish
citizens for the sake of "peace" efforts with little or no
chance of success.
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