SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) Security remained tight around the main Coptic cathedral in Egypt's capital Cairo on Monday, days after sectarian violence left several people dead.
Two more deaths were reported on Monday as clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims continued.
A 21-year-old Muslim man, named only as Mohamed, died of a fractured skull in hospital, a security source said.
His death followed fighting between local Muslims and Copts who had been attending a funeral for four Christians shot dead in a town near Cairo.
The health ministry said at least 90 people, including 11 policemen, were wounded around St Mark's Cathedral, seat of the Coptic pope.
The violence is the worst sectarian unrest since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Separately, the state news agency MENA said one person was killed and 14 wounded in fresh clashes on Sunday night in the town of El Khusus, north of Cairo, where the latest wave of sectarian strife began on Friday.
Hisham Kandil, Egypt's prime minister, said the government was taking all measures to protect the safety of Egyptians of all faiths.
Kandil promised to bring to justice the perpetrators of sectarian attacks and to crack down on unlicenced weapons.
He also spoke to the heads of the Coptic church and of the Islamic al-Azhar institution to discuss ways to resolve the crisis, a cabinet statement said.
The violence erupted as Egypt is negotiating with a visiting International Monetary Fund delegation for a loan of at least $4.8bn to ease a deepening economic crisis aggravated by political and sectarian turmoil.
The crisis has hit investment and tourism in the Middle East's most populous nation.
Muslim and Christian religious leaders appeared together on late-night television to call for calm and national unity.
Witnesses accused the police of standing by as the Copts were attacked and of firing teargas at mourners in the compound as they emerged from the cathedral under a hail of rocks.
A statement posted on the interior ministry's website blamed Christians for starting the trouble by vandalising several cars.
President Mohamed Morsi telephoned Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II on Sunday evening to condemn the violence, telling him that "any attack on the cathedral is like an attack on me personally".
In a condolence message to the families of the victims, Tawadros said on Monday: "Heavenly justice will be spoken at the appropriate time."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the head of Cyprus’ powerful Orthodox Church, has urged the country’s finance minister and central bank chief to resign following the announcement of a bailout plan for the Mediterranean nation.
On Sunday, Chrysostomos called on both Central Bank Governor Panicos Demetriades and Finance Minister Michalis Sarris to leave their posts.
“If I was satisfied, I would not have called on them the other day to resign and leave, because they have the same views as the troika…. We put up no resistance (to the terms imposed by the troika namely the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) and I think this is unacceptable, ” Chrysostomos said.
He went on to say, “If we had spent within our means, we would not have the results we see today…. This misfortune that has occurred to our country seems like an economic problem but it isn’t — at its core you will find sin.”
Chrysostomos’ remarks came after Nicosia and the EU reached a stringent bailout deal which included a tax of up to 40 percent on deposits of over 100,000 euros in Cyprus two biggest banks, a move which undermines the nation’s status as an offshore banking center.
Under the deal agreed in Brussels on March 25, Cyprus must raise 5.8 billion euros (USD 7.4 billion) to qualify for the full loan from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and avoid bankruptcy.
Thousands of Cypriots have been demonstrating in the capital to denounce their government, the EU and the IMF for their austerity plan.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source:islamic invitation turkey
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Churches across South Africa are holding prayers for Nelson Mandela, who has been in hospital for four days being treated for pneumonia.
Several hundred people gathered at the Regina Mundi church in Soweto - once a focal point of the struggle against apartheid.
On Saturday, South Africa's presidency said Mr Mandela, 94, was breathing without difficulty.
It said excess fluid had been drained from the lungs to ease his breathing.
There are no details yet on how long he will remain in hospital and no statement on his condition has been given for the past 24 hours.
After Mr Mandela was admitted to hospital late on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma said people "must not panic".
The former president first contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while detained on windswept Robben Island.
His lungs are said to have been damaged while working in a prison quarry. This latest spell in hospital is his fourth in just over two years.
Mr Mandela served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999 and is regarded by many as the father of the nation for leading the struggle against apartheid.
The statement read by presidential spokesman, Mac Maharaj, on Saturday said that Mr Mandela had been admitted to hospital "due to a recurrence of pneumonia".
It said: "Doctors advised that due to the lung infection, former President Mandela had developed a pleural effusion which was tapped. This has resulted in him now being able to breathe without difficulty.
"He continues to respond to treatment and is comfortable."
Mr Maharaj, a prisoner on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela in the 1960s and 70s, said the presidency "would like to acknowledge and thank all who have been praying for, and sending messages of support for, Madiba and his family."
Madiba is Mandela's clan name and is widely used to refer to him.
The hospital Mr Mandela is attending has not been disclosed.
Last December Mr Mandela was treated for a lung infection and gallstones - his longest period in hospital since leaving prison in 1990.
In February, he was treated for a stomach condition.
When asked whether people should prepare for the inevitable, Mr Zuma told BBC News: "In Zulu, when someone passes away who is very old, people say he or she has gone home. I think those are some of the things we should be thinking about."
But he stressed that Mr Mandela had been able to handle the situation "very well" so far.
BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding says South Africans have been praying for the recovery of Mr Mandela, who remains a moral beacon in the country despite withdrawing from public life almost a decade ago.
Despite his long imprisonment, Mr Mandela forgave his former enemies and as president urged South Africans of all races to work together and seek reconciliation.
In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
His main home is in Qunu, a small rural village in Eastern Cape province, where he says he spent the happiest days of his childhood.
However, doctors said in December he should remain at his home in the Johannesburg neighbourhood of Houghton to be close to medical facilities.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The new archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has highlighted the challenge faced by the Anglican church over gay relationships ahead of his enthronement on Thursday, saying he has friends who are in long-term gay relationships of "stunning" success.
The 105th archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican community, who will become the first holder of the office to be enthroned by a woman at the afternoon ceremony, has written to Peter Tatchell offering to discuss his attitude to gay marriage after the veteran campaigner criticised it in an open letter.
In a pre-enthronement interview with the BBC, Welby said that while he did not have doubts about the church's policy in opposing same-sex marriages he remained "challenged as to how we respond to it".
"You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship," the 57-year-old said, adding that he had "particular friends where I recognise that and am deeply challenged by it".
"The Church of England holds very firmly, and continues to hold to the view, that marriage is a lifelong union of one man to one woman. At the same time, at the heart of our understanding of what it is to be human, is the essential dignity of the human being. And so we have to be very clear about homophobia."
Questioned as to whether the church could simply ignore some gay relationships, he replied: "It's not a blind eye – it's about loving people as they are and where they are. You'll find that in every church and you'll find that because it imitates the character and the practice of Jesus himself."
Separately, the Times reported that Welby had emailed Tatchell after the campaigner released an open letter ahead of the enthronement questioning Welby's rejection of gay marriage.
The letter said: "You claim that you are not homophobic but a person who opposes legal equality for LGBT people is homophobic – in the same way that a person who opposes equal rights for black people is racist."
Welby reportedly emailed Tatchell to thank him for the "very thoughtful" letter and ask whether the pair could discuss the issue "without the mediation of the press".
Tatchell said he was pleased by the reply, saying no previous archbishop, "not even Rowan Williams", had made such overtures.
Welby, an Eton-educated former oil industry executive who joined the church as a vicar in Warwickshire, will be enthroned at Canterbury cathedral in front of 2,000 guests, including Prince Charles and the prime minister, David Cameron. Among the crowd will be representatives of other major religions.
He will be led to the diocesan throne by the Venerable Sheila Watson, the archdeacon of Canterbury. He will then be led by the dean of Canterbury, the very rev Robert Willis, on to the marble chair of St Augustine, marking his appointment as head of the Church of England.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –In an early nod to both climate change and global wealth inequality, the newly-elected Pope Francis has revealed he named himself after St Francis of Assisi.
The Pope, who until recently was known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, addressed journalists in the Vatican today.
He said that he named himself after the 12th-13th Century son of an aristocrat who forsook riches to live in poverty as a preacher and guardian of nature.
Francis, who ascended to the papacy after Benedict XVI became the first to abdicate the position in 600 years, said St Francis "loved and looked after" creation, noting that humans were "not having a good relationship with nature at the moment".
The 76-year-old, the son of a railway worker, also called for "a poor Church for the poor," and revealed that his "great friend" the Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes hugged and kissed him upon his election and said: "Don't forget the poor."
"Then I immediately thought of Francis of Assisi," he said.
"As the scrutiny was going on and all the votes were being counted, I thought of peace.
"And that's why this name entered my heart, Francis of Assisi. For me he's the man that represents poverty, peace. The man who loves and looks after what has been created.
"A poor man. I'd like a poor church for the poor."
Francis already has a reputation for humility,exhorting the faithful in his Argentine homeland not to come to his official inauguration next Tuesday but to save the money and give it to the poor instead.
And after his election to one of the highest offices on earth, he settled his own hotel bill, turned down the offer to be driven in the papal Mercedes and opted to take a minibus with the cardinals to the Vatican conclave residence.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was chosen to lead the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday. He took the name Pope Francis.
Forty-six percent of Catholics surveyed said the new pontiff should "move in new directions," while 51 percent say he should "maintain traditional positions," according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted last month.
Donna Doucette, executive director of Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics that formed in 2002 in reaction to the clergy sex scandals, said she had mixed opinions about Pope Francis, who is not known to be a liberal.
"We are definitely waiting to see," Doucette said. "It remains to be seen whether he is a person of the 21st century or the 17th century."
National polls also show continuing anger over the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the United States, which has resulted in the bankruptcies of prominent archdioceses and cost the Church in America an estimated $3 billion in settlements. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted over the past week showed that most American Catholics name the scandal as the biggest problem facing the Church.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) --
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Roger Mahony, who is at Rome conclave choosing next pope, protected Los Angeles priest who admitted molesting children.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will make the payouts to victims of a now-defrocked priest who told Cardinal Roger Mahony nearly 30 years ago that he had molested children.
The cases involving ex-priest Michael Baker span 26 years, from 1974 to 2000. Two were set for trial next month. The cases were settled this week.
Two of the claims alleged Mahony didn't do enough to stop Baker from abusing children, said the plaintiffs' attorney John Manly.
Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011 and was rebuked by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, in February after confidential church files showed the cardinal worked behind the scenes to shield molesting priests and protect the church from scandal.
Mahony, one of the cardinals in Rome helping select the next pope, was aware of the settlement, said J Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney. "We have for a long, long time said that we made serious mistakes with Michael Baker and we had always taken the position in these cases that whatever Baker did we were responsible for," he said.
Baker could not be reached for comment. Mahony has apologised repeatedly for his handling of clergy abuse cases. The cardinal was sequestered for the papal conclave and could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Manly said: "The person who could have stopped this in its tracks and prevented three out of four of these children from being sexually assaulted is now sitting in Rome voting for the next vicar of Christ," said Manly. "I find that terribly troubling."
Two of the plaintiffs, a pair of brothers, will get $4m each and the two others will get nearly $1m each, Manly said.
Confidential files show that Baker met with Mahony in 1986 and confessed to molesting two boys over a nearly seven-year period. Mahony removed Baker from ministry and sent him for psychological treatment but the priest returned to ministry the following year with a doctor's recommendation that he be defrocked immediately if he spent any time with minors.
Despite several documented instances of being alone with boys the priest wasn't removed from ministry until 2000 after serving in nine parishes.
Baker was convicted of child molestation in 2007 and paroled in 2011. Baker was charged in 2002 with 34 counts of molestation involving six victims but those charges were dismissed because they fell outside the criminal statute of limitations.
Authorities believe Baker may have abused more than 20 children in his 26-year career.
The archdiocese settled more than 500 clergy abuse lawsuits in 2007 for a record-breaking $660m.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It is impossible to calculate the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church. In truth, the church itself likely could not answer that question, even if it wished to.
Its investments and spending are kept secret. Its real estate and art have not been properly evaluated, since the church would never sell them.
There is no doubt, however, that between the church’s priceless art, land, gold and investments across the globe, it is one of the wealthiest institutions on Earth.
Since 313 A.D., when Catholicism became the official religion of the Roman Empire, its power has been in near-constant growth.
The church was able to acquire land, most notably the Papal States surrounding Rome, convert pagan temples and claim relics for itself. Over 300 years, it became one of Europe’s largest landowners.
For the next thousand years, tithes and tributes flowed in from all over Europe. Non-Christians and even fellow Christians were killed and their property confiscated. For example, the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople in the early 13th century brought it gold, money and jewels.
But by the beginning of the 20th century, the church had faced several hundred years of turbulence. Protestantism had claimed many of its members. The French Revolution at the end of the 18th century outlawed the church and though Napoleon allowed it to return, his relationship with various popes was stormy.
Despite this, the church retained great influence in Europe and the Jesuit order focused on missionary work, spreading Catholicism to other countries.
In the 1870s, the Papal States were annexed by the new kingdom of Italy and the pope’s territorial influence dwindled to the Vatican.
In 1929, the Church received compensation for its lost land in an agreement with the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. Under the Lateran Accords, it was paid about $92-million and, in return, recognized his government.
Investing that money helped fill the Holy See’s coffers, ensuring its financial security.
According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the nest egg has grown to at least $655-million.
The Vatican’s portfolio includes property in London, including the building housing Bulgari Jewelers, and apartment buildings in Paris and Switzerland.www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –In a breakthrough of interfaith relations in the US northeastern state of Indiana, a Fort Wayne church will grant a major award to a leading Muslim faith leader in recognition for his efforts to promote interfaith understanding and respect in the community.
“It touched the innermost portion of my heart,” J. Tamir Rasheed, the leader of the Islamic Center of Fort Wayne, told News Sentinel reported on Saturday, March 2.
Rasheed was receiving Plymouth Congregational Church’s annual Amistad Peace and Justice Award on Sunday, March 3.
Learning he had been selected to receive the award, Rasheed was overwhelmed by the fact that he is the first non-Christian to receive the award.
The award is named for Africans who were kidnapped and sold into slavery but then revolted and took control of the ship transporting them, the Amistad, in 1839.
The ship eventually was run aground off Long Island, and the Africans became defendants in a legal case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court.
The Africans — who were defended by early members of what is now the Congregational Church — won the case and the right to return home.
Being of African descent, the significant award also carried a deep meaning for the leading interfaith leader.
Moreover, he confirmed that the title of the award, carrying peace and justice meanings, wasthe core of true Islamic faith.
Islam's Prophet Muhammad instructs followers that, if they see an injustice, they are obligated to right it with their hands, Rasheed said.
If the perpetrator of the injustice is an entity too large to handle alone, such as a government, the person should speak out against the injustice.
If the person can't create change by speaking out, he or she should at least change the injustice in his or her own heart.
“The award is given to a person, but it represents a freedom of a people and a struggle that still is going on,” Rasheed said.
Church leaders praised Rasheed for his longtime and ongoing efforts to promote interfaith understanding and respect in the community.
“We wanted to applaud his past efforts and to encourage his future endeavors,” Rev. John P. Gardner, Plymouth's senior minister, said.
Rasheed is widely known for his efforts in Fort Wayne community.
For example, he participated in many panel discussions and educational programs after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to help local people understand the true beliefs of Islam, Gardner said.
Rasheed also served during that time on a local committee on tolerance created by then-Mayor Graham Richard.
Not only Rasheed.
Earlier this year, Muslim students at the University of Evansville in Indiana have distributed flowers among their fellow colleagues in an effort to promote peace among followers of different religions and spread information about their faith and culture.
Last September, the Islamic center in Indiana’s South Bend city also organized a candlelight vigil in the city’s Islamic center to remember the US ambassador to Libya who was killed in angry reactions to anti-Islam film.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
A recent US survey had revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.-www.shfaqna.com/English