November 20 - December 3, 2006 
 Weekly News In Review
 Vol 1, Issue 63
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The Weekly News In Review Newsletter is a compilation of the news articles that have appeared on the Understand The Times website during the previous week.

 November 17, 2006 - Devout Christians flocking to French church after 'sightings' of Jesus
 Article: Signd And Wonders

Devout Christians are flocking to a church on the French riviera where both Jesus and the Virgin Mary are said to have appeared to worshippers.

The holy 'visions' are being taken so seriously they are being investigated by a French Bishop and the Pope has been informed.

But the signs that a divine presence is in the room are not the traditional dazzling lights or gentle breeze. Instead, the chosen ones are suffering vomiting and convulsions more akin to scenes from The Exorcist.

...One 14-year-old girl had fits and began smashing windows, then began bleeding 'pinkish-yellow' blood, Miss Gomez said.

She added: "This might sound like the work of the devil rather than God, but everyone who experiences a vision says it was Jesus and Mary that appeared to them."

Read More ... 

 November 18, 2006 - Annan warns of "catastrophic" biotech danger
 Article: Signs Of The Last Times

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that potential dangers from the rapidly growing biotechnology industry were increasing exponentially and urged creating global safeguards.

Annan, speaking on Saturday in the Swiss university town, warned of "catastrophic" results if recent advances in biotechnology, including gene manipulation and work with viruses, fell into the wrong hands.

"As biological research expands, and technologies become increasingly accessible, this potential for accidental or intentional harm grows exponentially," he said in the text of a speech.

"Even novices working in small laboratories will be able to carry out gene manipulation."

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 November 12, 2006 - Pope calls for change to world's economy
 Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

Pope Benedict XVI has called for a structural change in the world's economy in order to bring an end to starvation.

Speaking from his studio window overlooking St Peter's Square, the Pope noted that the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organisation recently reported that more than 800 million people are undernourished, and that many people, especially children, die from hunger.

The Pontiff said that hundreds of millions of people around the globe do not have enough to eat, describing it as a scandal which must be fought with changes in consumption and fairer distribution of resources.

...Pope Benedict said it was necessary to eliminate the structural causes tied to the system of governing the world's economy, which earmarked most of the planet's resources for a minority of the Earth's population.

He said to make an impact on a large scale, it was necessary to convert the model of global development.

He said not only the scandal of hunger but also the environmental and energy crises demanded this.

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 November 19 - The passion of the pope
 Article: One World Religion

It was not a laid-back Turkish holiday. The citizens of the proud, predominantly Muslim nation had no love of Popes. To the East, the Iranian government was galvanizing anti- Western feeling.

The news reported that an escaped killer was on the loose, threatening to assassinate the pontiff when he arrived. Yet the Holy Father was undaunted.

"Love is stronger than danger," he said. "I am in the hands of God."

He fared forward -- to Ankara, to Istanbul -- and preached the commonality of the world's great faiths. He enjoined both Christians and Muslims to "seek ties of friendship with other believers who invoke the name of a single God."

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 November 20, 2006 - Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Receive Mother Teresa Award
 Article: One World Religion

For 'edifying the world through inspirational choral performances and recordings', the choir will be honored as a Laureate of the Mother Teresa Award Sunday following its 'Music and the Spoken Word' broadcast.

Father Joseph Mayor, rector of the Cathedral of the Madeleine will present a statuette to choir president Mac Christensen and music director, Craig Jessop.

Pope John Paul II, President Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela and Elie Wiesel are among other award recipients.

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 November 13, 2006 - Ban religion, says Elton John
 Article: Signs Of The Last Times

LONDON: Religion should be outlawed because it lacks compassion and promotes hatred of homosexuals, gay pop star Elton John said in an interview to be published Sunday.

The singer was speaking in a special "gay edition" of The Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine, where he shared his views on subjects ranging from being a music icon to Prime Minister Tony Blair's stance on the Iraq war.

At a time when religion is the subject of fierce debate in Britain over the right to wear the Muslim veil and other faith symbols, John complained there was a general lack of leadership from spiritual leaders.
"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. From my point of view, I would ban religion completely," he was quoted as saying.

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 November 20 Megapastor Rick Warren's Damascus Road experience
 Article: Social Gospel

Rick Warren, the superstar mega-church pastor and bestselling author of ''The Purpose Driven Life,'' had a Damascus Road experience last week - and like Saul of Tarsus, one of the after-effects appears to be blindness.

Warren went to Syria and could find no persecution of Christians. He could find no persecution of Jews. He could find no evidence of extremism. He could find no evidence of the sponsorship of terrorism.

Despite the temporary loss of vision that prevented him from seeing any evil in the totalitarian police state, Warren's hearing was apparently not affected - for his ears were tickled by what he heard and apparently accepted lock, stock and barrel from the second-generation dictator, Bashar Assad, and his state-approved mufti.

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 November 22 - Top Vatican official visits temple, meets Hindu priests
 Article: One World Religion

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the pontifical councils for culture and for interreligious dialogue, visited a Hindu temple, met with its priest and was "fascinated" by the experience.
With the visit, the cardinal, who is also president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, became the first Vatican official to visit a Hindu temple in Goa in recent history.

"His visit has sent the right signals to the Hindu community. The local media have played up the visit very favorably," said Father Ubaldo Fernandes, editor of the Catholic weekly Vavradeancho Ixxt (Worker's Friend).

The temple priest and temple committee welcomed the Vatican official.

Cardinal Poupard also visited a Hindu family living next to the Vamaneshvar temple in Davlli, where he met father and son temple priests. This was followed by his visit to the mutt, or Hindu monastery, in Kavllem.

"The cardinal saw Hinduism at work. All along he had read about Hinduism. Now, he was fascinated by Hindu culture, especially the third eye of Shiva," Father Theodore Mascarenhas, an official heading the Asia Desk at the Pontifical Council for Culture, told UCA News.

Father Mascarenhas, a native of Goa who accompanied the prelate, described the cardinal as "surprised to see young children being trained to become temple priests at the mutt." The French cardinal also appreciated the Hindu family values he saw, the priest said.

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 November 25 - From the margins, a new center is emerging
 Article: Emerging Church

Speakers talked about networks, as opposed to hierarchies and boundaries, and how faithful people find one another through an informal process similar to social networking. The conference itself felt like networking.
Begun two years ago as a way for Episcopalians to get beyond decades-old bickering and power struggles, the feast has grown in size and stayed fresh.
As diverse people found one another, new ideas emerged; worship took place in a half-dozen styles; and participants relished heavy-duty presentations that left them exhausted.
As a workshop leader and eager listener, I heard no enthusiasm for defending old structures or for perpetuating old arguments, but rather a yearning for connection, for moving on, for seeing opportunity and hope.
People talked of growing appreciation for all 2,000 years of Christian heritage, from ancient tradition to virtual prayer groups. One speaker termed it a "convergence" of many roads.
This isn't the "next new thing" in a linear progression from apostolic orthodoxy to storefront Pentecostalism. Rather, it's an epochal claiming of an entire tradition, in which sectarian die-hards will drift to separate corners to snarl, but the forward-looking among evangelical, liturgical, charismatic and liberal traditions will find their common ground on the free-flowing margins and then in an emerging center.

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 November 27 - Study: Galactic baby boom influenced life on Earth
 Article: Evolution Misc.

The stellar baby boom period of the Milky Way sparked a flowering and crashing of life here on Earth, a new study suggests.

Some 2.4 billion years ago when the Milky Way started upping its star production, cosmic rays -- high-speed atomic particles -- started pouring onto our planet, causing instability within the living. Populations of bacteria and algae repeatedly soared and crashed in the oceans.

According to one theory, when a star explodes far away in the Milky Way, cosmic rays penetrate through the Earth's atmosphere and produce ions and free electrons.

The released electrons act as catalysts and accelerate the formation of small clusters of sulfuric acid and water molecules, the building blocks of clouds. Therefore, cosmic rays increase cloud cover on Earth, reflecting sunlight and keeping the planet relatively cool.

Although cold and icy times are generally considered unfriendly to life, the data reveals that biological productivity kept oscillating between very high and very low. The reason, the researchers suggest, is that stronger winds during icy epochs stirred the oceans and improved the supply of nutrients in the surface waters.

"The odds are 10,000-to-1 against this unexpected link between cosmic rays and the variable state of the biosphere being just a coincidence, and it offers a new perspective on the connection between the evolution of the Milky Way and the entire history of life over the last 4 billion years," said study author Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center.

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 November 29 - Pope makes further Muslim-Christian gesture
 Article: One World Religion

Turkey on Wednesday praised the conciliatory tone of Pope Benedict during his visit to the predominantly Muslim country and his apparent new support for Ankara's bid to join the European Union.

Celebrating mass at a shrine in southwestern Turkey where legend says the Virgin Mary lived out her last days, Benedict stressed that a common devotion to the mother of Jesus Christ is another link binding Christians and Muslims.

As Benedict continued his four-day visit, Turkey focused on his gestures on arrival on Tuesday: his apparent support for Ankara's bid to join the European Union and praise for Islam after a recent speech Muslims found insulting.

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 November 29 - Christians must 'let go' some beliefs for sake of peace, theologian says
 Article: One World Religion

To live peacefully with Muslims and Jews, Christians must put aside the notion that their faith requires the creation of a Christian kingdom on Earth, a Lipscomb University theologian told an interfaith gathering at the university.

"We are not going to get very far in our relationship with Jews or Muslims if we do not let go of this idea," Lipscomb professor Lee Camp said at Tuesday's conference.

The unusual gathering of several dozen clergy and lay people was devoted to resolving religious conflict in Nashville and around the world.

"We need to forsake the Christendom model," Camp said. "The most basic Christian commitment      is that we say we believe in the Lordship of Jesus. But, if we claim that, how can a Muslim or Jew trust us, if we say Jesus is the Lord of all Lords?"

Co-sponsored by the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, the daylong conference was prompted by a desire to begin a dialogue about global religious conflict.

Panelists representing different faiths presented their own views on how to begin to bridge the religious divide.

For Kahled Sakalla, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Nashville, some of the answers lie in better education about Islam in the non-Muslim world.

Allah, the God Muslims worship, is the same God Christians and Jews worship, and the Quran recounts the same biblical stories of Mary and Jesus, he said.

"Yes, we have differences, but it's important to focus on commonalities," said Sakalla, one of four panelists representing different faiths who addressed the Lipscomb conference.

Mark Schiftan, rabbi of the Temple in Belle Meade, said he also believes people of faith must begin to look for common ground.

But the issues that have divided the world's religions for millennia are so deep and fundamental - ranging from the question of whether the land of Israel rightfully belongs to the Jews and whether there is one way to salvation - that tackling them will require both dialogue with other faiths and a more introspective look at one's own beliefs, panelists said.

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 December 1, 2006 - Pope turns to Mecca at Istanbul
 Article: One World Government

After offending the Muslim world by linking their religion with violence, Pope Benedict XVI, in an exceptional gesture, turned towards Mecca in an attitude of Muslim prayer at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul today, Turkish state television showed.


Benedict XVI, who became the second Pope in history - after John Paul II in Damascus in 2001 - to set foot in a Muslim house of worship, made the gesture at the suggestion of Istanbul Mufti Mustafa Cagrici, his guide for the occasion.

The Pope's spokesman, Federico Lombardi, was quick to point out to journalists afterwards that the Pope had not actually prayed but was "in meditation".

After explaining the basics of Muslim prayer to the pontiff during the early part of the tour, Cagrici said: "Let us turn toward the Kiblah" - the direction of Mecca, which all Muslims must face when they perform their five-time-a-day prayers.

The Pope complied.

The Pope then pursued his tour of the imposing early-17th century edifice, Istanbul's best known mosque, and exchanged presents with the mufti.

"This picture is meant as a message of fraternity - a souvenir of this visit that I will certainly never forget," the pope said, presenting Cagrici with a mosaic representing doves.

Benedict XVI received an Ottoman calligraphy that read: "In the name of Allah the merciful" - also in the form of a dove.

"A pleasant twist of fate," said the mufti.

The Blue Mosque, known officially as the Sultan Ahmet mosque, opened in 1616 and is the most famous in Turkey.

It got its popular name from the fine blue Iznik tiles in the main prayer room.

It stands in Sultan Ahmet Square in the old centre of Istanbul, opposite the Aya Sofya museum which was once the Christian church Hagia Sophia.

The Pope visited the mosque after a short tour of Aya Sofya.

As he left the mosque after about half an hour, visibly delighted, the 79-year-old pontiff said: "This visit will help us find together the means and paths to peace, for the good of humanity."

Comment from Understand The Times:

Pope Benedict XVI's "gesture" to turn towards Mecca and "meditate" is one more indication that we are in the last of the last days. The pope has previously made the statement that the God of Islam is the God of Roman Catholicism.

Further, the exchange of "doves" between the pope and the mufti is unprecedented. In the Bible, the dove represents the Holy Spirit. The Bible also states there is "another spirit" and "another gospel" (2 Corinthians 11: 4).

We are witnessing the final stages of the establishment of a One World Religion in the name of Christ for the cause of peace with headquarters in Rome.


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 November 30 - Documentary on Marian images to debut in December
 Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

No one knows what she really looked like, yet the Blessed Virgin Mary stands among the most popular artistic subjects in history. Now, a stunning new documentary will explore how images of the Virgin, around the world, reflect numerous traditions, devotional practices and cultures.

Picturing Mary will debut next month on public television. Narrated by actress Jane Seymour, the one-hour program leads viewers on a pictorial journey through history from the earliest times to the present day, and presents a stunning array of art from 12 locations in eight different countries.

Picturing Mary is a joint effort of the U.S. bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign and New York public television station Thirteen/WNET. The documentary follows their previous collaboration on the 2001 Emmy award-winning The Face: Jesus in Art.

"This program is a Christmas gift from the Catholic Communication Campaign to TV viewers," says CCC Director of Production Ellen McCloskey. "In fact, many stations will present it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Like The Face: Jesus in Art, Picturing Mary will become a perennial television favorite during the Advent and Christmas

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 December 1 - Rwanda: Thousands Pray At Marian Shrine As Jubilee Year Opens
 Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

A special Mass was celebrated on Wednesday at the start of a jubilee year to mark the 25th anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin at Kibeho.

The Catholic bishops of Rwanda and Burundi led the celebrations attended by thousands of priests, men and women religious and lay people from Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Europe.

During the Mass the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI announcing that a plenary indulgence had been granted by the Apostolic Penitentiary to pilgrims who visit Kibeho during the Jubilee Year.

"Our Lady of Kibeho is a beacon of hope, a light for all Africa and the world. This was demonstrated by the fact that 10,000 people braved torrential rain to take part in the ceremony to open the Kibeho Jubilee Year," Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro, told FIDES.

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 December 4 - Pilgrim statue visits inmates
 Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

Nearing the end of its three-week tour of Guam, the International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima made its way yesterday to visit men and women who could desperately be seeking any of the good fortune that is said to follow the statue.

Department of Corrections inmates had the opportunity to see the statue when it traveled through the different units of the Mangilao facility and it was a special moment for the inmates since the majority of them are Catholic, said DOC Director Robert Camacho.

Many inmates were deeply moved, Camacho said, crying while praying in the short moments of the visit. "We don't really understand the difficulties that might be going for them," Camacho said. "Sometimes their only consolation is their spiritual beliefs and values. It helps to uplift them even in their darkest hours."

Brining in a revered religious icon is just one of many ways the agency tries to lift the spirits in the prison.

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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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