TODAY’S CHRUCH – Written Stone (Monastery, Romania)

TODAY’S CHRUCH – Written Stone (Monastery, Romania)

Local tradition confesses that,during the construction of a railway , at the opening of the a tunnel, it was found an icon painted in stone representing the Holy Trinity. The monastery was built at the opening of the tunnel The monastery was built at the opening of the tunnel on the rock.

Three Texas churches damaged in Hurricane Harvey sue federal agency over refusal to provide relief for places of worship

Three Texas churches damaged in Hurricane Harvey sue federal agency over refusal to provide relief for places of worship

Three Texas churches severely damaged in Hurricane Harvey are suing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) over what they say is its policy of refusing to provide disaster relief to places of worship because of their religious status.

In a complaint filed on Monday in the federal court in Houston, the churches said that while they would like to apply for aid, it would be ‘futile’ because FEMA’s public assistance program ‘categorically’ excludes their claims, violating their constitutional right to exercise their religion freely.

The churches said that FEMA’s ban on providing relief where at least half a building’s space is used for religious purposes – a policy also enforced after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – contradicts a recent US Supreme Court decision making it easier for religious groups to gain public aid.

That decision which came on 26 June, known as Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia Inc v. Comer, meant that US states must sometimes provide such aid even if their constitutions explicitly ban such funding.

Becket, a nonprofit organization that represents the churches and advocates religious freedoms, said the same principle should apply to federal FEMA relief for Harvey victims.

Church in Wales elects John Davies as its new Archbishop

Church in Wales elects John Davies as its new Archbishop

The Church in Wales has elected a new Archbishop of Wales. Bishop John Davies is the current Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.

After more than 24 hours of debate, the decision-making electoral college emerged from behind locked doors on Wednesday afternoon to announce Bishop John had secured the two-thirds majority needed to be appointed.

It comes after the previous Archbishop Dr. Barry Morgan retired after 14 years in the post.

Bishop John was the most senior of the six Welsh bishops and had acted as the lead in the absence of an official Archbishop. Known as a man of integrity within church circles, his appointment was welcomed by senior figures.

‘We are all made in the image of God’: Church leaders join forces to denounce Nashville Statement

‘We are all made in the image of God’: Church leaders join forces to denounce Nashville Statement

Hundreds of church leaders have joined forces to denounce an evangelical manifesto that condemns same-sex marriage, promoting instead a message of inclusion in the name of the Christian faith.

This week’s Nashville Statement reaffirmed conservative Christian teaching that any sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful and that it is ‘sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness’.

In a statement today signed by the Church of England’s general synod member Jayne Ozanne as well as dozens of US pro-gay church leaders, more than 300 Christians affirm that ‘every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and that the great diversity expressed in humanity through our wide spectrum of unique sexualities and gender identities is a perfect reflection of the magnitude of God’s creative work.’

Titled Christians United, the statement continues: ‘In every generation there are those who resist the Spirit’s leading in various ways and cling to the dogmas and traditions that he is calling us to rethink and reform. Throughout our history, those who have been on the leading edge of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work have often found themselves initially excluded, marginalized, and demonized by some of those within established Christian institutions.

‘In the twenty-first century, we believe that the Church finds itself once again on the brink of a new reformation, one which in which the Holy Spirit is calling us to return to the Scriptures and our traditions in order to re-examine our teachings on human sexuality and gender identity.’

The statement includes ten ‘articles’, concluding: ‘We deny that Christ rejects anyone from his loving embrace because of their sexuality or gender identity. We likewise deny that homosexuality, bisexuality, queer sexuality, trans* identity, asexuality, or any other queer identity is sinful, distorted, or outside of God’s created intent.’ ​

Another statement was released by a group called The Liturgists.

They wrote: ‘As floodwaters still rise in Houston, many prominent Christian leaders released the Nashville Statement. This document released a flood of its own, only this time instead of homes flooded with water, it was hearts flooded with grief. Yet again, powerful people of means use the platform of the Church to demean the basic dignity of gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans, intersex, and queer people.

‘This isn’t new. “Biblical” morality has been used to justify slavery, resistance to interracial marriage, genocide, and war. The scope of the Bible’s narrative allows a broad interpretation of what is right and moral, and both the church and society at large have moved toward universal justice and acceptance on issues once thought to be “crystal clear”.

‘In regards to Christians across the spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities, it’s past time to accept and affirm them as they are. In the same way that we no longer accept the morality of slavery based on its inclusion in our scriptures, we can no longer project first century notions of sex and sexuality on people today. The very notion of “orientation,” or even “heterosexual” would be completely foreign to the authors of both the old and new testaments in the Bible.’

Ozanne told Christian Today: ‘I think it very telling that within hours of the “Nashville statement” being released, Christians United gathered twice as many signatories from church leaders that endorsed a far more affirming, loving and inclusive set of articles that embraces the LGBTI community. I challenge people to read both statements and see which they believe reflects the width, length, height and depth of God’s love for all creation – and in so doing see which is the more prophetic and courageous in a world that is increasingly fueled by fear and hate.’

Catholic bishop apologizes and priest resigns after Hindu deity Ganesh is welcomed in church

Catholic bishop apologizes and priest resigns after Hindu deity Ganesh is welcomed in church

A Catholic bishop in Spain has apologized after a priest hosted the parading of an image of Hindu deity Ganesh in his cathedral in Ceuta, a Spanish city in North Africa. The service saw Hindus joining Catholics as Marian hymns were sung in the direction of the revered elephant-headed icon.

The priest of the diocese, Father Juan José Mateos Castro, has since resigned, according to Crux.

The Hindu community of Spain’s Ceuta and Melilla had been completing their worshipping celebrations of Ganesh, the famous deity with the head of an elephant and the body of a child.

On their journey, they were welcomed at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Africa, led by Father Castro. The Hindu party had been singing chants traditionally dedicated to Saint Mary, and then brought the image of Ganesh into the church and toward the Altar, where Catholics there sang Marian hymns with the deity’s image in view.

What was intended as a sign of respect on the part of the Hindu community was taken as scandalous to many in the Catholic community, who don’t share the pluralistic spirit that’s prevalent in Hinduism.

Bishop Rafael Zorzona Boy said the event was ‘regrettable’, and apologized for the cause of any ‘pain, confusion or scandal in the Christian community.’ Father Castro was ‘admonished’ for his role in the controversy, the bishop said.

A diocese statement said that in no situation was the ‘love of the members of the Hindu community or their beliefs [to be] rebuked,’ but that positive local Catholic-Hindu relations also ‘forces us to be increasingly more faithful to our Christian tradition.’

Pope Francis to world leaders: ‘listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’

Pope Francis to world leaders: ‘listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’

Pope Francis has called for world leaders to ‘listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’, ahead of tomorrow’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which will feature a joint statement with Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Bartholomew I.

Pope Francis said yesterday that a full message about the importance of environmental care, from both him and ‘our dear brother Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople’, would be released Friday, according to Vatican Radio.

‘In [the message],’ the pontiff said, ‘we invite all to assume a respectful and responsible attitude towards Creation.’

He added that they ‘also appeal, to all who occupy influential roles, to listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer most from ecological imbalances.’

The Pope instituted September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in the Catholic calendar in 2015, in an ecumenical move that joined the Orthodox Church – which has marked the day since 1989.

Pope Francis has frequently made humanity’s relationship to the environment a central theme of his pontificate. In 2015 he released the major encyclical Laudato Si, in which the pope called for a committed fight against global warming to protect ‘our common home’. In 2016, Francis proposed adding care for the natural world to the seven ‘works of mercy’ Catholics are meant to perform.

‘The flock have made up their mind’: Most Australian Christians back gay marriage ahead of national vote

‘The flock have made up their mind’: Most Australian Christians back gay marriage ahead of national vote

Among those of faith, 58 per cent support the ‘yes’ campaign, supporting the legalization of gay marriage in Australia – where it currently is not legal.

Catholics were the most supportive of the proposal, with as many as two-thirds saying they would vote ‘yes’ – matching the proportion of non-Christian religious voters who said the same.

Among the Anglican and Uniting Church denominations, 59 per cent backed a ‘yes’ vote. Among all Australians, 66 per cent of the 1,000 polled supported gay marriage, while non-religious voters showed the most support at 79 per cent.

The survey was completed by the Jim Reed of Newgate Research, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia’s non-binding postal-plebiscite will seek the will of the people on the question of gay marriage beginning September 12 and concluding November 7.

‘The upper management of the church isn’t listening to the flock,’ said Tiernan Brady, the executive director of the Equality Campaign, who commissioned the poll.

‘The flock has made up their mind on this, they support marriage equality.’

Last week saw several Christian leaders speaking out ahead of the national vote, with some Catholics warning of a threat to religious freedom.

Hillsong’s Brian Houston warned of ‘wide-ranging ramifications’ for changing the definition of marriage but urged all Australians to vote whatever their conscience might say on the issue.

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, said that its 180,000 employees such as teachers and nurses would be fired if they had same-sex marriages.

‘I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage,’ Hart told Fairfax Media. ‘Any words or actions which work contrary to that would be viewed very seriously.

‘Our teachers, our parish employees are expected totally to uphold the Catholic faith and what we believe about marriage. People have to see in words and in the example that our teaching of marriage is underlined.’

‘Racism is America’s original sin’: 3,000 pastors march in Washington to protest white supremacy

‘Racism is America’s original sin’: 3,000 pastors march in Washington to protest white supremacy

As many as 3,000 religious leaders, spanning a range of traditions, gathered on Monday as part of a demonstration titled ‘One Thousand Ministers March for Justice,’ as RNS reported.

The march was intended as a faith-based protest against hate crimes and discrimination, held on the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington, in which King made the infamous ‘I have a dream speech’. However, the recent white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia – and its political fallout – escalated the import of and interest in the event.

‘We wanted to say this nation is in moral trouble,’ said the African-American Rev Al Sharpton, whose organization National Action Network organized the rally.

He added: ‘You’re going to see the victims of Nazism, the victims of white supremacy march today to the Justice Department. And say we don’t care what party’s in. We are not going to be out.’

The activist and pastor Rev Jim Wallis was amongst the assembled and urged the need for clergy to speak out against white supremacy. ‘We have to preach from every pulpit in America that racism is America’s original sin,’ he said.

Sikh leader Rajwant Singh spoke to the crowd: ‘Let me tell all the white supremacists and KKK and everybody that America is a multi faith country — Do you all agree? America belongs to all of us.’

Baltimore Methodist Episcopal pastor Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant criticised the evangelical advisers surrounding Trump who support the ‘lie’ that ‘Donald Trump is a man of God’.

‘They do not reflect the body of Christ at large’, Bryant said. ‘He [Trump] is not God’s man.’

Trump team and Israeli PM ‘revive talks over moving US embassy to Jerusalem’

Trump team and Israeli PM ‘revive talks over moving US embassy to Jerusalem’

The senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have discussed reviving the idea of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to the Times of Israel.

Kushner, the peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and the deputy national security adviser for strategy Dina Powell met with Netanyahu last Thursday as part of a visit to the region in a bid to re-start the dormant Middle East peace process.

According to a US source, during that meeting, the embassy move ‘was brought up by both sides as part of a productive broad conversation about a number of issues’.

After months of confusion and speculation, Trump’s White House finally ruled out moving the embassy ahead of his state visit to Israel earlier this year.

Back in January, a senior Fatah official said that moving the embassy would ‘ignite’ the Palestinian people into a new uprising.

‘I believe that any American act of stupidity will ignite the Palestinian territories,’ the Fatah Central Committee member Sultan Abu al-Einein told Egypt’s Alghad TV.

‘We must prepare for a confrontation with the new US administration, which has clearly and audaciously declared that Israel and its settlements are legitimate and legal,’ he said.

The Palestinian official declared that Washington and Jerusalem ‘will bear responsibility for the return of the bloodshed in the Palestinian territories’.

In December, momentum appeared to be gathering behind Trump’s proposal to move the embassy after his spokeswoman said it was a ‘very big priority’.

According to Israel’s Channel 2 TV station, officials were actively looking into possible locations for a new US embassy – including the Diplomat Hotel in the Talpiot neighborhood of west Jerusalem, a privately owned building that is home to 500 elderly immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

In December, Netanyahu said that such a move would be ‘great’. He said: ‘Regarding the idea of opening the US Embassy to Jerusalem, I will respond to this in one word: Great.’

Kellyanne Conway, a spokeswoman for Trump, said in a radio interview that he ‘made it very clear during the campaign’ that he wanted to make the move, and that she had ‘heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly’.

Trump delighted Netanyahu in September by telling him during a lengthy meeting that if he won the presidential election, the US would ‘recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel’.

While Israel considers Jerusalem its ‘eternal, undivided capital’, the Palestinians regard the east of the city – occupied by Israel in 1967 Six Day War – to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Critics said that Trump’s plan would have effectively ruled out a two-state solution to which the agreed division of Jerusalem would be key.

According to the Times of Israel report, during last week’s meeting, Kushner told Netanyahu that Trump was committed to helping broker a peace deal and thanked the prime minister for working with the White House toward that goal.

‘The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area,’ Kushner said. ‘We really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and his team to engaging very thoughtfully and respectfully in the way that the president has asked him to do so.’

Christian girl ‘very distressed’ after being forced to live with Muslim families

Christian girl ‘very distressed’ after being forced to live with Muslim families

A five-year-old girl from a Christian was left ‘very distressed’ after she was fostered to two Muslim families, encouraged to learn Arabic and had her Christian cross taken away.

After the two placement by Tower Hamlets council in east London, the girl returned home where she told her birth mother that Christmas and Easter are ‘stupid’ and European women are alcoholics, according to a report in The Times.

And she refused to eat what had been her favorite meal spaghetti carbonara because it contained bacon.

According to The Times, the child sobbed and begged not to have to go back to her foster home, where her present career wears a burqa, covering her face entirely, outside the home.

She told her social worker: ‘They don’t speak English.’ Her own family had opposed the placements.

Local authorities are obliged in law to give ‘due consideration to a child’s religion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background’ when they go into care.

A friend told the newspaper: ‘This is a five-year-old white girl. She was born in this country, speaks English as her first language, loves football, holds a British passport and was christened in a church.

‘She’s already suffered the huge trauma of being forcibly separated from her family. She needs surroundings in which she’ll feel secure. Instead, she’s trapped in a world where everything feels foreign and unfamiliar. That’s really scary for a young child.’

In April this year, an Ofsted inspection at Tower Hamlets Council found ‘widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection’

The Department for Education said: ‘When placing a child in a foster home, the local authority must ensure that the placement is the most appropriate way to support [the child’s] welfare. A child’s background is an important consideration in this decision.’

A council spokesman said: ‘We are unable to comment on individual cases. In every case, we give absolute consideration to our children’s background and to their cultural identity. All our foster carers receive training to ensure they are fully qualified to meet the needs of children in their care.’