P.M. NEWS Nigeria » Religion http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com First with Nigeria News - Nigerian leading evening Newspaper - Tue, 28 Apr 2015 14:30:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 Ado-Ekiti woman delivers twins after waiting for 14 years http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/20/ado-ekiti-woman-delivers-twins-after-waiting-for-14-years/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/20/ado-ekiti-woman-delivers-twins-after-waiting-for-14-years/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:01:16 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236841 Mrs. Roseline Akinsola> Photo credit: Facebook Page

Mrs. Roseline Akinsola> Photo credit: Facebook Page

Mrs Roseline Akinsola, 50, on Monday delivered a set of twins after 14 years of childlessness.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akinsola, who works at the Ekiti State Christian Pilgrims Board, was full of praises to God for answering her prayers.

The mother of two girls, who weighed 4.2kg and 2.3kg, advised other couples in need of children not to lose hope.

Akinsola, who on her Facebook page, says she hails from Ilawe-Ekiti, in an interview with NAN, expressed gratitude to God for giving her the children after several years.

” I thank God for the new name he has given to me; before, I was being called “Iya Iyanu’’ without a child, but today, my name has changed to “Mummy Twins.’’

“Many of my colleagues, friends and neighbours mocked and sidelined me, but because I stood firm on the words of God, He answered my prayers.

Illustration: a set of twins

Illustration: a set of twins

“I thank my husband, who inspite of the troubles and problems from family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours still believe in me and God.

“He stood by me like a father in all ways and also believed in God all through the crisis. I also thank my siblings who stood by me in prayers for years.

“Let me thank God for all those who stood by me in prayers and encouraged me not to desist from serving God.

“These children are indeed signs that God never forgets his own people who diligently seek him and believe in his words, ” she said.

The father of the twins,Babatunde,49, also expressed gratitude to God for the children.

“We fast, pray and cry unto God for the fruits of the womb for years, but I am happy that today, God has finally fulfilled his promise to my family.

“I thank members of our church under the callings of Pastor and Mrs David Ajileye for their prayers and care for my family,’’ the happy father, who is also a civil servant, said.

Ajileye, who is the General Overseer of the Way of Life Bible Church, Ado-Ekiti, thanked God for his blessings in the lives of the couple.

“We have known the couple for over 15 years and they have been steadfast and faithful in serving God inspite of the challenges they were facing.

“For years, I and my wife have been praying to God to give the couple the fruit of the womb; I am so happy that the lord has answered their prayers.

“The church witnessed a similar miracle in 2013 when a couple, members of our church delivered a set of twins, a boy and a girl after 31 years of childlessness,’’ he said.

He advised the couple to teach and train the children in the ways of the lord.

NAN reports that the mother and the twins were in good health as at press time. (NAN)

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Pastor Bosun, Buhari’s ‘Jihad’ And Christianity In Nigeria http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/18/pastor-bosun-buharis-jihad-and-christianity-in-nigeria/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/18/pastor-bosun-buharis-jihad-and-christianity-in-nigeria/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:28:07 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=236658 By Rev. Christopher Akinola (OlaKris)

Few months ago in Nigeria, around the time the constitutional conference was going on in Abuja, an audio message by a certain Pastor Bosun Emmanuel, who represented the Christian Association of Nigeria at the conference, began to make the rounds within and outside Nigeria. The audio message, amongst a number of things, described General Muhammadu Buhari, who was running for President, as an Islamic fundamentalist who, if elected, would Shariarize Nigeria. It also shared that, like in Turkey (ancient Ephesus), Christianity in Nigeria is on its way to obliteration through Jihad. Bosun claimed that Christians and Christianity are in trouble because Muslims are strategizing to Islamise Nigeria and that Christians should be vigilant. Bosun’s voice reverberated as the message received massive listening and distribution. The leadership of the RCCG, a mother Church to the assembly that hosted Bosun had since dissociated itself from the message. Most Christians who received the message frantically peddled it, with some giving it more mileage.

Rev. Christopher Akinola

Rev. Christopher Akinola

But alas, it was a mere propaganda that ought to have been discountenanced, partly. Most people, including Church leaders who are ignorant of Church history, will tell you that this propaganda was correct. Those who know better will cry foul and correctly call it the ranting of an alarmist that it really was. History says it all. Bosun, in any case, was correct to share that the Nigerian Church, rather than focus on raising disciples, is busy raising “millionaires”. He added that the Nigerian Church needs repentance because it has gone the wrong way. Nothing can be truer. He also said that the Church in Nigeria is at war and needs to foster unity. Correct! He continued as he presented videos of some gory details of massacred Christians in the north eastern Nigeria by boko haram. This little write up is to educate and inform our people, correcting the incorrect parts of Pastor Bosun’s message and emphasising some truthful things he shared.

Indeed, a careful perusal of history reveals subtle and obvious relevance of the Nigerian Church in today’s world. The Gospel of Christ and the message of Scriptures have been considerably spread globally by Nigerians. This is hardly contestable because out of every four black Africans, one is Nigerian. Nigerians are everywhere human beings live, even in Siberia and they usually migrate with their religious beliefs handy. Most Christians become emergency missionaries, therefore. These unending emigrationsare largely due to many years of gross misgovernance and mismanagements of national resources. If properly appropriated and managed, Nigeria can comfortably fend for a large portion of Africa. But then, the opposite is the case. A large number of her citizens struggle to live on less than a couple of dollars a day. Things have been pretty bad! The process and eventual results of the just concluded presidential elections would attest to the fact that it will never again be business as usual in our Nigeria. Change is here!

Although, my people have become the scumof many societies of the world,yet millions of my people remain very proud and, if you may, arrogant Nigerian green-passport carrier for many reasons. Firstly, we are very communal. We are a warm people who welcome strangers and visitors into our space, gladly sharing our means, even our meagre means. We are never xenophobic! Even when Ghanains were sadly excused from Nigeria way back in 1983, there were no losses of lives or properties, to the best of my knowledge. Many foreign nationalshave since made Nigeria their base, expatriating proceeds of their sweats (or through connivance with our leaders) to their respective countries.Secondly, my people have contributed immensely to the GDP of societies where they live around the world.Ask around, there is always a Nigerian lecturing in some University,Technicon, High school, or doing legitimate businesses all over the world.And ofcourse, like in all societies, a lot of bad examples of our people avail.

Now, not a few Nigerians were wrongly sensitised and alarmed by Pastor Bosun’s “revelations”.You see,like hordes of severally mis-preached sermons, majority of Christians in my country usually overlook the seven most important letters authored personally by Jesus Christ. A crash course at the feet of Brother Wole Owolabi, handed me a re-evaluation of Bosun’s message. For many reasons, these seven letters, comprising Chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation, are probably the most important part of this book for Christians. Although, there were many other Churches at that time that would seem to be more significant than the seven that Jesus addressed: the Churches at Jerusalem, Rome, Galatia, Corinth, and Antioch for example. Why did Jesus select just these seven: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea?

Investigations by Graham Brodie explain at least four levels of application to these letters: Firstly, it had a local application. These were actual, historic Churches, with valid needs corroborated by archaeological discoveries. Secondly, it was admonitory as each of the letters appears with the key phrase, “Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches”. Note the plural, Churches. Each of the letters applies to all Churches throughout history. If we understand the sevenfold internal structure, the uniquely tailored messages, and the specific admonitions in each of the letters, we discover that any Church can be “mapped” in terms of these seven composite profiles. Thirdly,homiletic: Each of the letters also contains the phrase, “He that hath an ear let him hear…” Doesn’t each of us “have an ear”? Each letter applies to each of us. There are some elements of each of these seven “Churches” in each of us. Thus, this may be the most practical application of the entire Book of Revelation. Fourthly, it was prophetic. This, by far, is the most amazing application. These letters describe, with remarkable precision, the unfolding of all subsequent Church history. If these letters were in any other order, this would not be true!It is on this historical backdrop of these letters as expounded by Wole Owolabi and Graham Brodie that we must analyse the message Pastor Bosun brought to the Nigerian Christians, warning them against a Buhari presidency as conduit for Islamic agenda.

The first letter was to the Ephesus Church. This Ephesian Church (present day Turkey) is representative of the great Evangelistic Church of the first century. The word Ephesus means “The Desired One”, which aptly describes the Church as Jesus sees it. Like the early days of the Nigerian Church, the Church in Ephesus was full of spiritual vitality and strength. However by the end of the 1st century, as it could be said of the Nigerian Church of today, the people had left their first love (for Christ and each other). Self-aggrandisements and personal kingdom building had taken the driver’s seat. Jesus warns them to repent or He would remove their “candle stick” from its place. This was a threat as well as a promise from the Lord. The warning still stands today. In my opinion, this kind of caution against greed in the Church from a Pastor Bosun to the Nigerian Church would have made more impact, rather than raising unfounded alarm of an impeding “jihad” from a Buhari Presidency.

The second letter was to the SmyrnaChurch. This represents the persecuted Church of the second and third centuries. According to Brodie, Satan tried everything to wipe the Church out by sheer force. During this period of history, the Church was persecuted under ten different Emperors with the final ten years being the worst. Jesus says that this Church, although poor in worldly terms was rich in faith. It is of note that the word Smyrna comes from the word “Myrrh; Death” which was used as a fragrant perfume of “offering” in Old Testament times. This seems to aptly describe the Church during this time in history, as its members were being “offered” as living sacrifices. However, during this time the Gospel spread faster than at any other time in history. This is exactly the history of the Nigerian Church. In the days of yore, the Nigerian Church was not attractive, neither was it rich, but it was pure. Well, at least purer than whatever parody we see around today! Contrary to what obtains today, Nigerian Church history clearly reveals how impoverished the Church was in stuffs-material but rich in stuffs-spiritual. In those days, the vocation of the Clergy was neither attractive nor rewarding. Things have since changed since the prosperity gospel commenced in this country. Affluence of the Church and clergy has escalated while character and purity has nosedived. Bro Bosun addressed this anomaly in the Church, but missed it when he went on a clarion call to crucify a Buhari presidency.

Even so, the letter to the Pergamos Church attracts even greater interest. After this time of persecution, Satan changed his tactics. Instead of trying to wipe out the Church, he made “Christianity” acceptable through the conversion of the Emperor Constantine around 312 AD. In gratitude for the reprieve from persecution the Church adopted many pagan rituals and feast days as its own. The Church also became centralized in Rome acting as an extension of imperial authority.How does this apply to the Nigerian Church today? The “pilgrimages” that some notable fathers of faith in Nigeria made to Aso Rock at the instance of the Jonathan administration is unprecedented. The “favours” derived thenceforth has increased the “prosperity” of the respective religious leaders.The Christian Association (CAN) and Pentecostal Fellowship (PFN) leadership became apolitical while the pulpit and pew suffered. Those without such “breakthroughs” are named as not “arrived”.Interestingly, the word Pergamos means “Mixed Marriage”, which is exactly what happened to the Church during this time. The Church got elevated out of persecution and got entangled to the political power of the State. In light of this we must remember Jesus’ words that “His kingdom was not of this world” (John 18:36). The Church, which is His Body was not meant to have political power while this world remained. So the original vision of the Church was polluted from this time forward by the work and actions of men. However, as in all cases, there have been several exceptions. Some Pastors in Nigeria just won’t stoop that low as to count it a privilege to be a guest of the President. They seek greater honours;honours that money, University licences, aircrafts or oil rigs can’t purchase! Again, Brother Bosun has refused to address this perfidy by the Church leaders in Nigeria, rather he calls Buhari a jihadist. Indeed! A jihadist who has had more Christians as domestic staff than Muslims!

Next was the missive to the Thyatira Church. This Church was commended by Jesus Christ for its works of faith, love and patience, but the Church had allowed itself to be corrupted by false teachings and immoral acts. Jesus refers to this as the woman “Jezebel” (See 1 Kings 16:29-33) and He is ready to act against these falsehoods. The woman is to be cast into affliction, those who are allied with her are to suffer great tribulation and her children are to be put to death. The word Thyatira means “Semiramis” or “Continual Sacrifice”. This describes the state of the Roman Church which places great emphasis on “personal sacrifice” in order to “please God”. This whole concept is quite foreign to the truth that Jesus has done all that is required for us to be free from sin. Today, almost all preachers in Nigeria teach congregants to “sow” seeds of faith in order to receive largesse from God. This error has grossly escalated at present. Giving gifts to God is admirable, but giving to God so as to retrieve favour is arrant fraud. We must sow seeds out of love and not out of greed. Unfortunately, the Nigerian Church seems to have raised more of greedy people than lovers of God. However, in this Thyatira church are those who have not accepted these false teachings. Of them Jesus Christ requires nothing, except they cling to the truth until He comes. If we look through the history of Christianity, we see many faithful Saints who clung fearlessly to the truth of Jesus Christ. Many of these lost their lives at the hands of the “Church”.The “Church” killed Christ, anyway! I would have expected a Bosun to raise alarm against this error rather than raising a battle cry against a Buhari presidency.

The next letter was to the Church in Sardis. This is the Church which was resting on its original works to gain favour with the Lord, but had fallen asleep. Jesus warns them to wake up and strengthen what remains (before it also dies). The word Sardis means “Remnant” or “Escaping Ones” and seems to refer to the Church of the reformation. But rather than continuing in the faith, the Church had stopped and fallen asleep. The reformed Churches broke away from the Church of Rome, yet in many ways they modelled themselves on the Roman example, particularly in their structure and their association with the governments of this world. They had made a start, but had not finished the work. It is no longer news that many breakaway Nigerian ministers, aside very few, have continued to perpetrate the very things they rebelled against. If you ask me, this would have made a better focus for Pastor Bosun rather than raising angst against a Buhari presidency.

The church in Philadelphia also featured on Christ’s mailing list. This is the Church that Jesus loves. It was obedient to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and Jesus had set an open door before them. Their motivation was their love for the Lord and their fellow man. This was the great missionary Church of 1750 to 1870. Philadelphia means “Brotherly Love”, which describes well the Church which so loved its Lord and its fellow man as to send missionaries to nearly every nation on earth within the space of 100 years. Frontline ministries in Nigeria today such as the Church of God Mission, CAC, Foursquare, CAPRO, Rhema, CCC, Deeper Life, C&S, Roman Catholic, Living Faith, RCCG, MFM and some others have sent hundreds of Missionaries across Nigeria, Africa and the globe. This is highly commendable. Jesus promised to keep them from the time of trial that was to come on all the earth. He also said He was coming quickly. The teaching that Jesus was coming back was revived during this time of Missionary sending. Not much of this has been heard of recent. Brother Bosun ought to have done better than instigating Christians against a Buhari presidency.

The Laodicea Church were the recipient of the last mail. This is the last Church age. It is the half-hearted Church, not recognizing how poor it really is. Jesus has nothing good to say about it. In fact He is very displeased with it. This is a very worldly, proud Church, increased in wealth and influence, but spiritually bankrupt. Again it has not separated itself from the World system. Because Jesus loves them so much He rebukes them so they will wake up to themselves. Toward the end of last century there was a great outpouring of understanding of scriptural prophecy. Earlier this century there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in many parts of the world. There is also a great “expectation” about the return of Christ. One further event which has occurred during this time is the restoration of the nation of Israel.The word Laodicea means “People Rule” and it is a time of trial for the Church. The Church has been tried by the forces at work in the world and found wanting. To those who overcome Jesus will grant the right to sit on His throne and rule the nations. We are living in the Laodicean age right now. Jesus is calling us to repent of our worldly ways and return to Him. Echoing this call ought to have been the focus of Pastor Bosun’s message, but he went ahead to decry a Buhari presidency.

Back to Bosun’s reference to the Church in Turkey(ancient Ephesus). According to Wole Owolabi, the truth of the historical matter which Bosun, either evaded or is ignorant of was that God took the candlelights out of the Turkish Church by using the Ottoman Turks in order to achieve what the Lord prophesied. It has nothing to do with Islamic Jihad at all. The Church got what it deserved. It was God’s arrangement through prophecy.

Now, answer this simple question. Between Buhari and Jonathan, who has done more evil to the Nigerian Church? Certainly, Jonathan did more evil. See, the evil President Jonathan did to the Nigerian Church, a Buhari can’t even achieve anything close through Islamic Jihad. All an Islamic jihad can do is probably purify us through lots of persecutions. That’s all. We would become better. But what the other guy, Jonathan, did was worse. He went from Church to Church, politicising the Church of Christ, giving Church leaders money, bastardizing their already comatose consciences. All of them taking some money here and there and further dividing Church against one another. “You got money but I didn’t” kind of scenario. The clergy conspicuously and shamelessly campaigning, canvasingand harassing congregants to vote for Jonathan. Really? I thought ministers are to teach people to be led of the Spirit.? Hence we said it would be very unethical for Jonathan to return as President, and if he does, it would be because we didn’t pray. The Nigerian Church fathers prophesied a Jonathan victory but the ordinary people ( Muslims, Christians, traditional worshippers and atheists) prayed to God to deliver them from Jonathan and the Church leaders. We knelt down and he didn’t win. They prophesied and he lost. Jonathan was the evil that further wrecked the Church’s already dented reputation; he and all those prophets who collected money. Some of our Church leaders just played into that political ditch. The political correctness that our dear Pastor Bosun clamoured for was exactly what the Church in Turkey did. Distributing and competing amongst Bishoprics, finding relevance with and dining with the State. You see, when you politicise the Church, you take away its candlelight. So, Pastor Bosun and his camp were the ones setting the downfall of the Church. They forget that Christianity is relational. If mutual relationship is removed from Christianity, we are no longer Christians. We become club members! Whatever divides us therefore cannot be right. Ironically, Boko Haram is doing a better job in uniting the Church than Jonathan. In Boko Haram, we find a common enemy. In Jonathan, we see a divided Church.

Rather than become enemies of those who do not share our faith, Christ taught Christians to love them. There are better methods of preaching the Gospel than raising false alarms against a Buhari presidency! I am an ardent Christian, but in my view, an honest Muslim who hates graft and corruption would make a better Commander-in-Chief than a Christian who believes stealing is different from corruption. What do you think?

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School yoga does not violate religious freedom – US http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/04/school-yoga-does-not-violate-religious-freedom-us/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/04/04/school-yoga-does-not-violate-religious-freedom-us/#comments Sat, 04 Apr 2015 01:03:00 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=235167 School children perform Yoga en masse in India

School children perform Yoga en masse in India

A California court said Friday that yoga classes taught at an elementary school do not violate students’ right to religious freedom, after parents complained Hindu and Buddhist doctrines were being promoted.

The parents of two students at an Encinitas district school near San Diego said the yoga classes, which were taught as part of the school’s physical education curriculum, infringed on their children’s constitutional rights.

The First Amendment bans school-sponsored religious promotion and prayer.

But after a years-long court battle, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego ruled the courses are not faith-based.

“We conclude that the program is secular in purpose, does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion and does not excessively entangle the school district in religion,” justice Cynthia Aaron wrote.

“The district’s yoga program does not violate our state constitution,” the justice wrote.

The decision upholds an earlier ruling of a lower court, which the parents had sought to appeal.

Yoga, an exercise that promotes stretching and breathing, often incorporates spiritual elements from eastern faiths.

It has become popular in the West, and many practices in North America do not incorporate the religious aspects of the practice.

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Fashola Declares Methodist Synod Open http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/18/fashola-declares-methodist-synod-open/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/18/fashola-declares-methodist-synod-open/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:50:55 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=233547 All is now set for the 9th Annual Synod of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Diocese of Lagos West. The 4-day event coming up at Methodist Church Nigeria, Idimu, Mushin, Lagos will kick off on Thursday, 19 March with the Ministerial and Lay Sessions.

Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola is expected to declare the synod open on Friday, 20 March, while the Synod programme will be rounded off with a thanksgiving service on Sunday, 22 March at the same venue during the 10.00am service.

The theme for this year’s Synod, “ Aglow with the Spirit” has been prayerfully selected to reassure the citizenry on a great turn around spritually that God will do concerning Nigeria.

Governor Babatunde Fashola

Governor Babatunde Fashola

According to the Chief Host of the Synod, the Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Revd. Oluyemisi Ogunlere, “the promise of God to us as a nation and the whole world in general is to bring a total stoppage to all the calamities in our land, all natural disasters and self destructions around us and ultimately turn all our challenges to opportunities if we allow the holy spirit to take control of our lives as his beloved children .

“As Methodist, we’ve challenged ourselves to take a position on how best we can move forward with the holy spirit by adding value to our immediate societies by bringing it to the front burner at this year’s Synod of the Diocese and pray for peace and togetherness among nations all over the world.”

According to the Lay President of the Diocese, Otunba Morakinyo Hanson, “this year’s Synod which is the 9th edition in the history of the Diocese is expected to attract notable personalities within and outside the Methodist family to be led by His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria amongst others.” The Methodist Church Nigeria, Lagos West Diocese was adjudged the best diocese out of the 56 dioceses in the whole Methodist Church Nigeria at the 42nd and 7th Biennial Conference that took place at  Methodist Theological Institute, Mission Hill, Umahia, Abia State in 2010.

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US pastor abandons donation campaign for $65m jet http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/14/us-pastor-abandons-donation-campaign-for-65m-jet/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/14/us-pastor-abandons-donation-campaign-for-65m-jet/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 13:16:42 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=233250 Creflo Dollar and his wife, Taffi

Creflo Dollar and his wife, Taffi

Popular US pastor and founder of World Changers Church International, Creflo Dollar, has brought down the website where he was begging people to donate $65million for him to buy a new luxury Gulfstream G650.

He also deleted the Gofundme page where he asked 200,000 people to donate $300 each for him to acquire the Gulfstream G650 airplane, following backlash from the social media community.

Creflo's campaign web page

Creflo’s campaign web page

One of the critics, is Kirsten West Savali, a culture writer who writes for The Roots: She wrote on 13 March:

“Dollar would rather press people living below the federal poverty line—people with no jobs, no insurance, no health care and, in some cases, no homes—into funding his luxurious travel?

“The man should be ashamed of himself, but apparently he’s not. Anyone bold enough to tell a congregation that he had visions of executing anyone who didn’t pay tithes clearly has no conscience. Yes, he told them that the only reason they’re still alive is that he’s “covered with the blood of Jesus””

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Pastor wants poor congregation buy him $65m jet http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/14/pastor-wants-poor-congregation-buy-him-65m-jet/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/14/pastor-wants-poor-congregation-buy-him-65m-jet/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 08:30:57 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=233229 *What has Christianity really become? Pastors robbing the poor to live in affluence, to buy jets? This is the story of Pastor Creflo Dollar based in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Atlanta “prosperity gospel” minister and megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar is attempting to crowd fund himself a $65 million Gulfstream G650 private jet.

Kirsten West Savali at The Root reported Friday morning that Dollar — who was arrested for assaulting his then-15-year-old daughter in 2012 — was flying in his old private jet when its engine lost power, prompting him to scrap it for a newer, top-of-the-line model.

Pastor Creflo Dollar: wants congregation buy him a $65million Gulf Stream jet

Pastor Creflo Dollar: wants congregation buy him a $65million Gulf Stream jet

Dollar is the pastor of World Changers Church, International, a sprawling megachurch complex located in the hard-bitten south Atlanta suburb College Park. The pastor and his family, however, live in a $2.5 million mansion in tony Sandy Springs.

Dollar — whose estimated worth is somewhere around $27 million — is one of the top proponents of so-called “prosperity gospel,” which preaches that God rewards the righteous in this life with affluence, which His chosen children have an obligation to flaunt as a show of how richly the Lord has blessed them.

The Gulfstream  G650

The Gulfstream G650

On Dollar’s website, he said, “We are asking members, partners, and supporters of this ministry to assist in the undertaking of an initiative called Project G650. The mission of Project G650 is to acquire a Gulfstream G650 airplane so that Pastors Creflo and Taffi and World Changers Church International can continue to blanket the globe with the Gospel of grace. We are believing for 200,000 people to give contributions of 300 US dollars or more to turn this dream into a reality—and allow us to retire the aircraft that served us well for many years.”

The Root’s Savali pointed out that Dollar’s reported $27 million net worth is “200 times more than the $29,640 average annual income in College Park, Georgia where he holds court.”

“Dollar would rather press people living below the federal poverty line—people with no jobs, no insurance, no healthcare, and, in some cases, no homes—into funding his luxurious travel?” she wrote.

She concluded, “It’s just pathetic that during a time of such unrest and uprising in black America — when food safety is non-existent, public education is dismal and the bodies of our children are piling up while politicians wave for the cameras — Dollar is busy scheming. Instead of putting millions into the community, he’s pulling millions out of it just so he can fly above it all and tell his congregation to say ‘praise the Lord’ while he does. And there is nothing holy about that.”

*Reported by www.rawstory.com

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73 Hours Of Praise For Adeboye http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/02/73-hours-of-praise-for-adeboye/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/03/02/73-hours-of-praise-for-adeboye/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:29:53 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=231781 The youths of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, will Monday begin 73 hours of praise to bless the name of the Lord for sparing the leader of the church, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, who clocked 73 years on Monday.

A release by the leadership of the youth stated that the programme will be in conjunction with the music department of the church led by Pastor Kunle Ajayi.

The release further stated that the praises kick off by 2p.m. Monday and will be rounded off by 3pm on Thursday, 5 March 2015.

The release further stated that the purpose of the praise is to appreciate God for His mercy upon the church and its leader and to kick start the Special Holy Ghost Service which starts at 6:00p.m. on Thursday, 5, March 2015.

Pastor E. A. Adeboye

Pastor E. A. Adeboye

The organisers of the programme believe that this year’s event is a unique one because it coincides with the day Pastor Adeboye is 73.

This special hour of praise started in 2012 when Pastor Adeboye was 70 years. It was then 70 hours of praise. The following year, it was 71 hours of praise.

“If the Lord tarries, this is the way we will be doing it until God calls our daddy home, which I believe, it will still be a long time to come by the grace of God,” a source informed P.M.NEWS.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has sent a congratulatory message to Adeboye on his 73rd birthday.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, Jonathan praised Adeboye for “the productive spiritual leadership which he (Adeboye) has continued to provide for members of his church and the body of Christ in the country.”

The Prsident’s letter to the General Overseer reads: “It gives me great pleasure to felicitate with you on the occasion of your 73rd birthday.

“Our administration and the Nigerian nation owe you a debt of gratitude for your prayerful support and the productive spiritual leadership you continue to provide, not just for the millions that constitute the membership of the Redeemed Christian Church of God across the world, but also for the entire body of Christ in Nigeria.

“On a personal level, I have left every meeting with you greatly strengthened and deeply inspired by your steadfast faith and commitment to the peace, stability, growth and development of our dear nation.

“I pray that Almighty God continues to imbue you with robust health and enduring fulfilment in the many more years of worthy service ahead of you.”

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Homeless man gets prestigious Vatican burial spot http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/26/homeless-man-gets-prestigious-vatican-burial-spot/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/26/homeless-man-gets-prestigious-vatican-burial-spot/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:23:34 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=231375 Pope Francis: showing love were there was none

Pope Francis: showing love were there was none

A homeless man has been buried in the exclusive Teutonic Cemetery within the Vatican in the latest sign of how Pope Francis’s concern for society’s most vulnerable is changing the way the Church does things.

Willy, a Belgian who lived on the streets around St Peter’s until his death in December, was well known to many priests, some of whom used to bring him food, Vatican radio reported.

He died after being hospitalised with the symptoms of exposure. His burial in a cemetery normally reserved for senior German clerics was funded by a donation from a German family.

Francis has made a focus on the rights, welfare and dignity of the poor one of the central themes of his papacy, reflected in his maxim that he wants “a poor church, for the poor”.

Earlier this month, showers for the homeless were installed in public toilets just yards from St Peter’s square, at the Argentinian pontiff’s request.

To mark his birthday in December, Francis ordered the distribution of dozens of sleeping bags to homeless people across Rome, and parishes in the Italian capital have been asked to follow suit with similar initiatives.

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2015 Hajj: Ogun begins sale of forms http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/19/2015-hajj-ogun-begins-sale-of-forms/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/19/2015-hajj-ogun-begins-sale-of-forms/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:42:51 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=230495 Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State

Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State

The Ogun Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board on Wednesday said it has commenced the sale of forms for 2015 Hajj to prospective Muslim pilgrims from the state.

The Secretary of the Board, Alhaji Sefiu Rasheed, made this known in a statement issued in Abeokuta.

He stated that the application form was N5,000, along with two passport size photographs for endorsement.

He noted that intending pilgrims should make an initial deposit of N600,000 on or before March 13 and obtain an official receipt from the Finance and Accounts Department of the Board’s Secretariat, Block B, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.

He warned that unruly actions by pilgrims could attract necessary sanctions and urged intending pilgrims for 2015 to prepare themselves properly.

Rasheed said laboratory investigations shall be conducted on all prospective pilgrims by the board’s approved laboratory services at the cost of N2,700 each.

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Muslims urged to look for new moon http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/19/muslims-urged-to-look-for-new-moon/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/19/muslims-urged-to-look-for-new-moon/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 00:36:25 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=230484 Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III

Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III

The Sultanate Council on Wednesday in Sokoto, urged the Muslim community to look for the new moon of Jumada Ula 1436 AH.

This was contained in a statement signed by Prof. Sambo Junaidu, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Religious Affairs, Sultanate council and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria.

It said, “Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, which is equivalent to 29th day of Rabi’u Sani 1436AH, shall be the day to look for the new moon of Jumada Ula.”

“Muslims are therefore requested to start looking for the new moon of Jumada Ula on Thursday and report to the nearest district head or forward such information to the Sultan, Sa’ad Abubakar,” it added.

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Pope voices sadness over Libya beheadings of Christians http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/16/pope-voices-sadness-over-libya-beheadings-of-christians/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/16/pope-voices-sadness-over-libya-beheadings-of-christians/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 12:17:01 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=230144 Pope Francis: Head of the Catholic Church

Pope Francis: Head of the Catholic Church

Pope Francis on Monday expressed “profound sadness” over the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic militants in Libya, saying they had been killed for their faith.

“They were executed for nothing more than the fact that they were Christians,” Francis said in unscheduled remarks in his native Spanish following a meeting with John Chalmers, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

“The blood of our Christian sisters and brothers is testimony that cries out (to us),” the pontiff added.

“Be they Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it does not matter. They are Christians, their blood is the same, their blood confesses (their faith in) Christ.”

Egypt on Monday launched air strikes against Islamic State targets in Libya on Monday after the jihadists posted a video showing the decapitations.

The killings have been condemned around the world and were described as “barbaric” by Al-Azhar, the Cairo-based institution which is regarded as Sunni Islam’s leading theological authority.

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I have no Islamist agenda, Buhari tells Catholic bishops http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/11/i-have-no-islamist-agenda-buhari-tells-catholic-bishops/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/11/i-have-no-islamist-agenda-buhari-tells-catholic-bishops/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 22:45:07 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229613 General Muhammadu Buhari and his team with Catholic Bishops

General Muhammadu Buhari and his team with Catholic Bishops

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari has re-affirmed his commitment towards ensuring that Nigeria remains a multi-religious state where every individual is free to practice his or her religion of choice.

Speaking at what Bishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria christened an “Episcopal” Town Hall Conversation with representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, General Buhari stated that although he had been severally and consistently vilified and maligned, he had no personal religious agenda and neither would he support any moves by anybody or group of persons to either Christianise or Islamise Nigeria.

In his speech titled “One Nation bound in Freedom, Peace, Unity and Love”, Buhari, who was accompanied by his running mate Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, the Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and a host of other members of the party’s PCC, stressed he “will not condone any initiative that seeks to promote one religion over the other.”

Earlier in his welcome speech, Bishop Kaigama, who is also the Archbishop of Jos, said that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria believes in the unity and progress of this country and regretted the wide communication chasm that exists between the leaders and the people. He hoped that the conversation was an indication of the willingness to establish a sustainable communication platform.

In a series of boisterous exchanges, the Bishops variously expressed their concern with the falling education standards in Nigeria, wide spread corruption, violence in the polity, insurgency and the worrisome security situation in the country, amongst others.

Reacting, General Buhari traced the cause of these challenges to unemployment. In his view, “in a country where a large percentage of the younger generation is unemployed and where no immediate respite is in sight, these challenges are prone to abound. Give them self improvement opportunities; offer them a view of a greater tomorrow and all these will be in the past.”

Buhari assured that his government will pursue a well planned agricultural programme in conjunction with development of the rural areas to exploit the multiplier benefits of agriculture, empower citizens and curtail rural-urban drift. He also stated that the solid mineral exploration and exploitation would be given a boost to generate employment.

On fighting corruption, General Buhari maintained that “we already have laws and institutions empowered to fight against corrupt practices. All we need is the will to activate these structures and utilize them appropriately.”

He further stated that Nigeria’s potential for greatness will become evident again and be more appreciated not long after he steps into office.

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Iraqi Christians could become extinct – Archbishop http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/10/iraqi-christians-could-become-extinct-archbishop/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/02/10/iraqi-christians-could-become-extinct-archbishop/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 21:29:06 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=229548 Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil

An Iraqi archbishop called for military action in his homeland in a speech to British lawmakers on Tuesday, and warned the Church of England’s general synod that Christianity in Iraq could become extinct.

“As a Catholic, I find it hard to say, but I want military action. There is no other way now,” Bashar Warda, the Archbishop of Erbil, was quoted by the BBC as telling parliamentarians on a visit to London.

Speaking to religious leaders later Tuesday, he said there was now a threat of the “extinction of Christianity as a religion and as a culture” in Iraq.

Christians in Iraq “do not have much time left,” he said, adding that the conflict with the Islamic State group had created a crisis of “chronic urgent need”.

“The future will come, one way or the other, and for us this means waiting to see what sort of aid, whether military or relief, arrives,” he said.

“Our vibrant church’s life is dissolving in front of our eyes,” he said, comparing the plight of Christians in Iraq to World War II genocide.

There is a long history of trauma for Iraq’s Christian community, which once numbered more than a million and is one of the oldest in the world.

The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq ended Saddam Hussein’s disastrous rule, but also turned the country into a battleground, unleashing a wave of bombings and killings by militants in which Christians were often targeted.

While violence fell sharply in the years after the 2006-2007 peak of Iraq’s sectarian war, it surged again from April 2013.

Then came the IS-led offensive, which Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako says has displaced some 150,000 Christians.

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Pope Francis urges parents to stop breeding like rabbits http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/19/pope-francis-urges-parents-to-stop-breeding-like-rabbits/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/19/pope-francis-urges-parents-to-stop-breeding-like-rabbits/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:12:59 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=227014 Pope Francis: candid advice to parents

Pope Francis: candid advice to parents

Pope Francis appealed Monday for responsible parenting and said that good Catholics should not have to breed “like rabbits”.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics said he defends the Church’s teaching against artificial contraception but claimed that didn’t mean “Christians should have children one after the other.”

He told journalists on his flight back from his visit to the Philippines that he once asked a mother of seven children — all born through caesarian section — who was pregnant with her eighth if she wanted to “leave behind seven young orphans”.

“She said, ‘I trust in God.’ But God gave us the means to be responsible,” the pope said. “Some think, and excuse the term, that to be good Catholics, they must be like rabbits.”

Francis said creating new life was “part of the sacrament of marriage” and in Manila had strongly defended his predecessor Paul VI’s outlawing of artificial contraception for Catholics in 1968.

“Paul VI was worried by the growth of neo-Malthusianism” (which advocates restricting the number of children the poor can have) which tried “put a control on humanity… he was a prophet,” he said.

“The key teaching of the Church is responsible parenthood. And how do we get that? By dialogue. There are marriage groups in the Church, experts and pastors,” he added.

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Pope ends record-breaking Asia tour http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/19/pope-ends-record-breaking-asia-tour/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/19/pope-ends-record-breaking-asia-tour/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 06:54:03 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=226893 Pope Francis waves to the throng of Filipino Catholics

Pope Francis waves to the throng of Filipino Catholics

Masses of cheering believers in the Philippines turned out to bid farewell to Pope Francis Monday, a fitting end to a week in Asia that saw him draw record crowds and campaign relentlessly for the poor.

The pontiff visited Sri Lanka as well as the Philippines on his second trip to Asia in five months, seeking to promote the Catholic Church in one of its most important growth regions.

More than one million people gathered along his motorcade route in the Philippine capital of Manila on Monday morning for a final glimpse of Francis, the city’s planning agency chief, Francis Tolentino, told AFP.

The 78-year-old pontiff showed no signs of fatigue from a gruelling week on the road, smiling and waving to the crowds from an open-air “popemobile” on the way to the airport.

President Benigno Aquino then led a red-carpet farewell on the tarmac, as children sang and danced, before the pope gave a final wave to the Philippines and boarded his plane to return home.

Sunday saw one of the highlights of his Asian journey, with six million people turning out in Manila as he celebrated mass — a world record for a papal gathering.

The Philippines is famed as the Catholic Church’s bastion in Asia, with 80 percent of the former Spanish colony’s 100 million people following the faith.

But even the pope was stunned at the size of the crowd, which surpassed the previous world record of five million set during a mass by John Paul II at the same venue in 1995.

“I cannot fathom the faith of the simple people,” Francis said, according to the archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who acted as the pontiff’s chaperone during his five days in the Philippines.

Throughout his stay in the Philippines — where a quarter of the population lives on 60 US cents a day or less — the pope spoke out against the forces that entrench poverty.

In a speech at the presidential palace, the leader of the Catholic Church lectured the nation’s elite, calling on political leaders to show integrity and do something to end the nation’s “scandalous social inequalities”

The pope began his Asian tour with two days in Sri Lanka, where he canonised the country’s first saint in front of another record crowd.

Police said a million people in the majority Buddhist nation turned out for the event, making it the biggest public celebration ever for the capital of Colombo.

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Pope Francis thrills Manila fans with ‘jeepney’ popemobile http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/18/pope-francis-thrills-manila-fans-with-jeepney-popemobile/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/18/pope-francis-thrills-manila-fans-with-jeepney-popemobile/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 09:06:56 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=226793 Pope Francis in the 'jeepney' popemobile. AFP Photo

Pope Francis in the ‘jeepney’ popemobile. AFP Photo

Pope Francis made a triumphant entrance for a mass with millions in the Philippines on Sunday aboard a “popemobile” styled after the nation’s iconic, flamboyant and much-loved “jeepney” minibus.

The pontiff, standing in the elevated open body of the uniquely Filipino version of his popemobile, travelled through the streets of the capital Manila for the main event of his five-day visit.

Wearing a think plastic yellow poncho over his vestments, the 78-year-old pontiff smiled and waved to hundreds of thousands who had lined the route to the venue for the mass.

The rectangular vehicle with distinctive giant grille repeatedly stopped so he could reach into the cheering masses and pick up babies to kiss and bless them.

The pope rode the jeepney popemobile to Rizal Park where millions had gathered to hear him celebrate mass, in one of the world’s biggest papal gatherings.

Pope Francis inside the jeepney popemobile, during the visit

Pope Francis inside the jeepney popemobile, during the visit

The jeepneys are regarded by many Filipinos as a symbol of national ingenuity. Locals created them from surplus US military jeeps after American forces left at the end of World War II.

The bodies of the jeeps were extended, seats were added and a fixed roof put in place. The vehicles were then painted with colourful and Catholic designs.

They proved to be strong vehicles with decades-long lifespans, and can be seen ferrying people through city streets and animals on mountain roads.

However the diesel-powered vehicles are also one the nation’s chief air pollution culprits.

Francis’s jeepney was an all-white popemobile. It had no doors, after the pope told local organisers he did not want a bulletproof vehicle so he could reach out and touch his followers.

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US diocese files for bankruptcy to pay sexual abuse victims http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/17/us-diocese-files-for-bankruptcy-to-pay-sexual-abuse-victims/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/17/us-diocese-files-for-bankruptcy-to-pay-sexual-abuse-victims/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 23:20:16 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=226628 Pope Francis

Pope Francis

A US archdiocese said Friday it is filing for bankruptcy to compensate victims of sexual abuse, the 12th Roman Catholic district to do so in a years-long scandal that has rocked the Church.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is filing for bankruptcy for the “reorganization of the archdiocese corporation,” Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a letter posted on its website.

“I believe it is the fairest and most helpful recourse for those victims/survivors who have made claims against us,” he wrote.

“Reorganization will allow the finite resources of the archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/ survivors.”

He insisted that the diocese’s mission would not be affected and that it will continue to provide “essential services” to the community.

It is the 12th diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy in the past decade in order to free assets to repay victims of sexual abuse.

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minnesota: files for bankruptcy

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minnesota: files for bankruptcy

Nienstedt said the church assumes full responsibility for any abuses committed and that it supported victims.

“This action will not in any way avoid our responsibilities to those who have been affected by clerical sexual abuse,” he said.

“This is not an attempt to silence victims or deny them justice in court. On the contrary, we want to respond positively in compensating them for their suffering.”

The letter did not say how much money each victim could receive.

The archbishop said there are currently 21 cases of sexual abuse pending before the court, and there could be as many as 100 more complaints not yet filed.

The US Catholic Church has spent millions on lawyers, damages and therapy bills since the abuse scandal emerged in the early 2000s, according to a report from Stonebridge Business Partners, which provides an annual audit for the Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The audit has been undertaken every year since the Church was rocked by pedophilia claims in 2002, when the man then serving as Boston’s archbishop admitted to sheltering a priest accused in multiple abuse cases.

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US condemns Charlie Hebdo protests by Muslims http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/16/us-condemns-charlie-hebdo-protests-by-muslims/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/16/us-condemns-charlie-hebdo-protests-by-muslims/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 22:40:10 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=226607 anti Charlie Hebdo protest in Pakistan

anti Charlie Hebdo protest in Pakistan

The United States condemned Friday sometimes violent protests by thousands of people in Muslim majority countries against a new cartoon of the prophet Mohammed published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Washington stressed the “universal” right of the press to freely publish any kind of information, including caricatures, after at least three people were injured when protesters clashed with police outside the French consulate in Karachi, Pakistan.

Among them was an AFP photographer, who was shot in the back.

Anti Charlie Hebdo protest: Pakistani police arrest a protester

Anti Charlie Hebdo protest: Pakistani police arrest a protester

In Niger’s second city, Zinder, protesters smashed the entrance door to the French cultural center and set fire to its cafeteria, library and offices, while three churches were also torched.

“We certainly urge all to refrain from violence, exercise restraint and respect the rule of law,” said Jeffrey Rathke, a State Department spokesman.

“No act of legitimate journalism, however offensive some might find it, justifies an act of violence. That’s I think an important starting point.”

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo features a cartoon of Mohammed on its cover holding a “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) sign under the headline “All is forgiven.”

Protest in Jordan

Protest in Jordan

It was the first edition since Cherif and Said Kouachi gunned down 12 people in an attack on the magazine’s Paris offices on January 7 over such cartoons.

The image has angered many Muslims as depictions of Mohammed are widely considered forbidden in Islam.

Freedom of expression is enshrined in the US Constitution, but religious satire is seen as taboo.

“Media organizations and news outlets often publish information that’s meant to cause debate, to stir debate,” Rathke said.

“And while we may not always agree with any particular judgment or every item of content, the right to publish that information is one that is fundamental and that we see as universal.”

Washington has not always leaned on the side of Charlie Hebdo’s provocative cartoons.

In 2012, the United States criticized a French court decision allowing the satirical magazine to publish controversial cartoons, concerned that they would inflame tensions in Muslim countries.

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Pope to begin passionate, chaotic Philippine visit http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/15/pope-to-begin-passionate-chaotic-philippine-visit/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/15/pope-to-begin-passionate-chaotic-philippine-visit/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 08:56:55 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=226324 Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis will on Thursday immerse himself in the Catholic Church’s passionate and chaotic Asian heartland when he lands in the Philippines for a five-day trip that is tipped to attract a world-record papal crowd.

The charismatic pontiff will fly into the capital of Manila from Sri Lanka, where a million worshippers gathered to watch him canonise that nation’s first saint and listen to a homily on religious tolerance.

Francis has said his two-nation tour is aimed at adding momentum to already impressive growth for the Church in Asia, with its support in the Philippines the benchmark for the rest of the region.

Eighty percent of the former Spanish colony’s 100 million people practise a famously fervent brand of Catholicism, and the pope is set to enjoy thunderously enthusiastic crowds throughout his stay.

“Every step he makes, every car ride he takes, every moment he stays with us is precious for us,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said as he called on all Filipinos to make an effort to see him.

“Seeing him pass by is a grace. Waving our hands at him in loving welcome is an experience of a lifetime.”

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on Thursday along the route the pope was scheduled to pass after touching down in Manila at about dusk, hoping to get a first glimpse of the pontiff.

“It’s a blessing to see the pope. That’s why we’re here,” school teacher Jeannie Blesado, 35, told AFP as she sat alongside the route more than six hours before the pope was to pass by.

– Open-air mass –

The high-point of his trip is expected to be an open-air mass on Sunday at a park in Manila, with organisers preparing for up to six million people despite a forecast of rain and security concerns.

Organisers have said that, if the crowd is as big as expected, it will surpass the previous record for a papal gathering of five million during a mass by John Paul II at the same venue in 1995.

Francis, who will be making the fourth papal visit to the Philippines, is also due to visit communities devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed or left missing 7,350 people in 2013.

Church officials have said one of the main reasons for Francis wanting to visit the Philippines was to make a “mercy and compassion” trip to meet survivors of the typhoon.

On Saturday, he is scheduled to deliver a mass to tens of thousands of people in Tacloban, one of the worst-hit cities in the central Philippines, and have an intimate lunch with 30 typhoon survivors.

The main scheduled events on Friday included a state welcome at the presidential palace, a mass at Manila Cathedral and a meeting at a shopping mall with thousands of families.

Authorities have expressed major concerns over the pope’s security in the Philippines, where attempts have been made to kill visiting pontiffs twice before.

Nearly 40,000 soldiers and police are being deployed to protect the pontiff in what Philippine military chief General Gregorio Catapang described as a “security nightmare”.

– Security concerns –

Potential stampedes from the giant crowds, as well as the threat of Islamic militants or lone-wolf assailants are among the concerns.

On the first papal visit to the Philippines in 1970, Bolivian painter Benjamin Mendoza donned a fake priest’s cassock and swung a knife at Pope Paul VI as he arrived at Manila airport.

Paul VI was wounded but continued his trip without disclosing his injury.

One week before John Paul II’s 1995 visit, police uncovered a plot by foreign Islamist extremists to kill him by bombing his Manila motorcade route.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino made a nationally televised address on Monday specifically to highlight the security threats for the pope and call on all Filipinos to help protect him.

“I ask you, do you want history to record that a tragedy involving the pope happened in the Philippines,” Aquino said.

Adding to the concerns, the 78-year-old pontiff has insisted he will not travel in a bullet-proof “popemobile” during his big events so he can be closer to the faithful.

The pope flew out of Sri Lanka on Thursday morning, a day after one million people gathered to hear him give mass in what police said was the biggest public celebration ever for the capital of Colombo.

His visit, which began on Tuesday, came days after an election that exposed bitter divisions on the island and saw the surprise victory of Maithripala Sirisena over strongman president Mahinda Rajapakse.

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith said the pope had brought “great joy” to the island as it struggled to recover from civil war.

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‘Exhausted’ pope cancels meeting with bishops http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/13/exhausted-pope-cancels-meeting-with-bishops/ http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2015/01/13/exhausted-pope-cancels-meeting-with-bishops/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 10:31:07 +0000 http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/?p=226069 Pope Francis: Head of the Catholic Church

Pope Francis: Head of the Catholic Church

Pope Francis on Tuesday cancelled a planned meeting with Sri Lankan bishops, with one security official saying he was “exhausted” after a long journey from the airport exposed to the hot sun.

The 78-year-old, who arrived in Colombo Tuesday on an Asia tour that will also take him to the Philippines, took over an hour to travel into the city from the airport on roads thronged with well-wishers.

The pope travelled in an open-top car with no protection from the strong sun and after a long overnight flight from Rome.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said only that the meeting with the bishops had been cancelled due to the pope’s late arrival from the airport.

But a source working on security arrangements who asked not to be named told AFP the pontiff looked “exhausted” after his journey.

Pope Francis has shunned the pomp of his predecessors, and said earlier this year he prefers not to use the bulletproof “popemobile” favoured by previous pontiffs.

Journalists travelling with him said he appeared on good form during the flight.

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