"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Face of Hateful Islam at Pope's UK Visit in September

Just less than two months from now, the Holy Father will be visiting the UK. This trip will be his first Apostolic Visit to the United Kingdom after he was invited by the then Prime Minister Gordon through the approval of the Queen.

As his schedule is drawing nearer, left wing and right wing movements by dissenters are trying their best to be heard. One website has been shutdown but the government (read here)which calls Britons to "disassociate the British government from the Pope's intolerant views ahead of the Papal visit to Britain in September 2010."

Before it was blocked, it gained 12,000 signatories. The newly elected Prime Minister confirmed that the Papal visit is an official State Visit by "invitation of the Queen" herself.

The said Papal Trip will be in September 16-19, 2010.

In his itinerary (see here), the Pope will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman. The beatification rite will be held at Cofton Park in Birmingham. Another face intolerant and hateful Muslims opposing his visit posted a very threatening article in his website at The Islamic Standard. Do we have to believe that this is a real "STANDARD" (NORM) for all Muslims in the UK? I hope not.

The article says:
"A change of venue gives Birmingham Muslims a chance to tell the Pope just what they think of him after his insults against the Prophet Muhammad (saws) in 2006 in Regensburg when he said…

'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'

As well as this chance to challenge these evil words of this evil Pope [emphasis mine], over 80,000 Catholics from all over the UK are also expected to attend the open air ceremony in Cofton Park, Birmingham, after the venue was changed to here from the original plan of doing the pontifs final day at Coventry airport."

Did the Pope really insult their Prophet Muhammad? Was this quotes his own or he quoted someone.

To end this Muslim's misunderstanding of the "Regensburg Lecture" we need to help this Muslim realize that those quotations had been the words of a 14th Century Byzantium Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos who pronounced those words when he had experience violence done by Muslims. Had the violence changed from 14th Century to the 21st Century? I guess this is the reason why the Pope had to address the Muslim world of their love for violence in the name of Islam.

After the speech, series of violence erupted in the Muslim world which only strengthens the truthfulness of this quotation observed since the 14th Century.

Then followed by another round of insult for Catholic veneration of saints:
"We hope Muslims can be there to meet him as well and to also call people away from the shirk of worshipping the dead like the Catholics do [emphasis mine],  calling out to them for help and intercession when Allah says in the Quran,

Nor call on any besides Allah, such can neither profit you, nor hurt you. If you do, then you will surely be one of the zalimun -Quran translation, 10:106

If this is the "standard" view of Muslims about the Pope and about Catholics, can the Pope criticize Muslims of traveling to Meccah just to kiss and venerate a piece of black stone? If he does, I am sure Muslims around the world would definitely stage a violent protest and killings too.

"We at the Islamic Standard hope the Muslims of Birmingham take this duel opportunity to give Da’wah to these 80,000 travelling disbelievers, whilst at the same time telling the Pope in no uncertain terms what Muslims think of his evil slanders against the last Prophet of God and his message."
(Please do not perpetuate your ignorance on the Pope's speech.)

Instead, let's ask the mercy of God for our brothers and sisters in the Islamic faith which we shared with Abraham our common father of the faith a mindset of tolerance that as they are enjoying our democratic tolerance while we are not free build and practice our faith FREELY in Muslim countries.

Let us all join our prayers together and fight in prayer those propagandists and extremists using religion as a ploy. Let's all PROTECT THE POPE!

Holy See established Full Diplomatic Ties with Russia

EWTN/CNA - Just under two weeks ago Russian officials accepted the credentials of Archbishop Antonio Mennini as the first papal nuncio to their country. The event ushers in a new era of full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation.

The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) newspaper reported that Foreign Affairs minister Sergei Lavrov met with Archbishop Mennini on July 15 in Moscow to seal full diplomatic relations, which Pope Benedict XVI and president Dmitry Medvedev had agreed to last December. Just a month ago, on June 26, the Holy See accepted the credentials of Mr. Nikolai Sadlichov as ambassador from Russia.

The Russian vice minister for foreign affairs, Alexandr Krusko, welcomed the nuncio on behalf of President Dmitry Medvedev and highlighted the increasing "spirit of harmony and cooperation" between the Holy See and Russia in recent years, according to LOR.

The Vatican paper added that "the vice minister hoped for an even more fruitful collaboration on the great moral and ethical challenges that are posed to man today."

During the ceremony, Archbishop Mennini assured his dedication to the strengthening of relations between the two sides and his commitment to the "spiritual and moral growth of the people of Russia."

The Holy See and Russia have maintained limited diplomatic relations since 1990, after the fall of the USSR, but had not formally exchanged ambassadors until now. The decision was made on Dec. 3, 2009, when, after meeting with the Pope at the Vatican, President Medvedev asked his Foreign Affairs department to pursue full diplomatic ties for the first time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Take Time for Yourself

When we do not reverence our individual selves by taking time to pray, rest and recreate, we soon run out of energy which is needed in order to maintain healthy relationships.

-from What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Church of England Readying for Exodus As Women Bishops are Anticipated

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - The recent action by the Church of England to introduce a resolution for consecration of women bishops has all but guaranteed that the largest exodus from the mother church of Anglicanism is about to take place. For many, the destination will be Rome

At a recent meeting in York, the General Synod voted to move forward on the new policy, which provides no real protection for those who oppose the practice. Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and honorary head of the Anglicanism was powerless in his efforts to provide compromise.

The new resolution does allow for a woman bishop to delegate oversight of a parish if she so chooses, however, the parish has no power to change supervision. Critics insist that a bishop will not easily cooperate with a parish requesting re-assignment.

While the resolution must now be reviewed by the Dioceses over the next eighteen months and then ratified by the 2012 synod; no one expects the measure to fail.

For Anglo-Catholics, this is the end of the Canterbury Road. With the invitation for full communion with the Roman Catholic Church already offered, these pilgrims must now wait. The structures are still being put in place for the reception of bishops, priests, deacons and laity into the new Anglican Ordinariate.

Forward in Faith, the largest Anglo-Catholic group in the Church of England, is anticipating a large exodus. Steve Parkinson, Executive Director of the 10,000-member organization, told David Virtue of Virtue Online that conversion to Catholicism is about the only solution.[... continue reading]

Family – Still the Basic Indestructible Structure of our Society

Photo Source:familylifenz
Why the Catholic Church opposes “gay lifestyle” and the promotion of “same-sex marriages”, “abortion”, “artificial contraceptives”, euthanasia, etc?

Secular society cannot change what nature has designed. It is a fact that the basic and indestructible bond that weaves us together is the family. It was tested from ancient civilization to the present. What is not normal will remain “not normal” no matter how the secular government would like to whitewash it. Our timidity, lack of moral responsibility poses a greater risk in the family, threatening within the basic unit of our society—the family a cancerous ideology that could hurt us together. I believe it is not right to think that everything and everyone should have equal rights for male and female we are never the same in responsibility.

The recent development (I call it moral regression) in Argentina should open our eyes what would happen if there would be no traditional families with fathers and mothers nurturing their children to be morally responsible citizens of our countries. What would happen if we paraded nakedness in “pride” (gay) marches and glorify nudity and sex instead of parading Christian heroes like the saints?.

We are moving very fast to our own devastation. These activities are sure means in dissolving that relationship, weakening our sense of family by these false ideologies masquerading as “basic rights”. Dissolving our families create a greater disorder in our survival as a community of families.

I cannot agree more than what Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL wrote in his Kerygma reflections when he said:

“If the family unit is weakened, society is weakened. If the family unit collapses, it won’t be long before this happens to society as well. We see the results of family breakdown in society today in terms of the lack of respect that children have for their elders, the lack of responsibility in various sectors of society, drugs, alcoholism and other extreme forms of behavior. We can throw all the money that we want in looking for solutions to these problems but the only real solution will be derived from the strengthening of the family unit. Restoring relationships within families and instilling the necessary formation into children will stand them in good stead later in life and a better society will emerge.”
Can married gay couples produce their own offspring? If they’d adopt a child, they should realize that that child isn’t just a thing. It’s a result of the union of a man and a woman. Every child deserves a family where he/she is loved and he can love. Only genuine parents of “father and mother” can give that. Nature is designed family like that. to a healthy family where he has a father and a mother who alone can nurture that love—beyond the sphere of just having “sex.”

We haven’t lost our hope yet. Still there is the Catholic Church where we all can shelter during winter of callousness. When the sunset of human pride, sinfulness and faithlessness darken the door our faith, we look upon the bright light of Christ in his Church—she will guide us to the right path.

Catholics ought to listen to what the Church teaches. It will surely lead as one family under the guidance of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God—with the Blessed Mother on our side, with the Saints, those who are awaiting for their salvation in the Purgatory and us still journeying, sharing in the One Body of Christ as our Paschal meal to the heavenly banquet prepared for the elect.

May we, member of the Catholic Church of Christ uphold this truth that family is still the basic indestructible structure our society needs.

Cloistered Nuns Share Record Label With Elton John

"[O]ur music appeals to a wider audience, secular and non-secular. The words have a very profound meaning that is coming from the Sacred Scripture. The singing in our daily lives is very important for us. It is our prayer," said Sister Raphael of the major record deal recently landed by her community of Benedictine nuns. It is a contract with a label the nuns now share with Lady Gaga, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John.  Read the story here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque, why such an opposition?

Will anyone forget 9/11?

Georgie Anne Geyer: Ground Zero Mosque is a bad idea
Source: News-Herald

WASHINGTON — It's recognized by most of us that America is trying to untangle its difficult relationships with Islam everywhere. The plans of some Muslim groups to build a 13-story Ground Zero Mosque only two blocks from the "sacred ground" of 9/11 are complicating that undertaking even further.

On the one hand — the traditional American side — one finds a kind of rage at such an idea. On the other hand — the Islamic-American side, if that term does indeed constitute a coherent group — one finds an arrogant, "we have the right" attitude hardly befitting a group that is asking for privilege.

So who is right, if anybody? We'd better seriously consider these questions, because the conflict over the mosque — and several others in the Greater New York area — is going to be front page news for a long time.

First, the wrenching context: We all know what happened on 9/11, of course, and we are well informed about the perpetrators of the massacre. But who exactly are the Muslims who blithely want to build so close and so high that they can look down on this tragic American cemetery?

One organization is the Cordoba Initiative, which has a good reputation as an Islamic group that wants to meet with Christians in an atmosphere reminiscent of an Islamic "Y." (It is named after the liberal Islamic caliphate in Cordoba, Spain, ruling from the eighth to the 15th centuries, which respected Christians and Jews — a good sign.)

But no one has revealed where the $100 million for the mosque has come from, who is behind the idea, or who are the people leading the entire project.

Two other mosques, in Brooklyn and Staten Island, are being planned by the Muslim American Society, a Virginia-based non-profit group that has been linked to the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood — which should give one pause for thought. The Brotherhood's most prominent member, the late religious philosopher Sayyid Qutb, famously called for using jihad to overthrow political structures across the Muslim world.

Anyone familiar with Islam in this confused epoch knows how difficult it is to quantify either groups or ideas within the religion. For starters, you can find Shiites blowing up Sufi mosques, Sunnis fighting Shiites, and al-Qaida killing Awakening Sunnis. We struggle to find moderate groups to work with. Moreover, even American-born Muslim boys are now taking up the violent jihad cause and attacking the United States.

The so-named "spokesman" and "founder" for the Ground Zero Mosque initiative, interviewed on CNN, was far from courteously trying to convince other Americans of his group's good intentions. He was arrogant, smug and derisive of non-Muslim Americans. One came away from his interview feeling that he really wanted to, as the kids rather eloquently say, stick it to us.

Given these chasms of information — and the attitude of the Muslims involved — one can only be against this Ground Zero Mosque. The unequivocal fact is that the grounds where so many died so terribly is no place at this moment of history for any mosque.

Elsewhere, yes! At Ground Zero, no! ...[ Read More!]

"Keep in mind that there are few Christian churches, much less Jewish synagogues or other religious temples, anywhere in the Islamic world. Until Muslims are willing to provide for others, in countries where they are dominant, what they so arrogantly demand for themselves in the West, it would be the height of folly to allow such a dramatic and intrusive development as the Ground Zero Mosque." [emphasis mine]

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leave the Priesthood says Vicariate of Rome after another scandal involving priests

Priestly Ordination vowing to God a Chaste, Prayerful and Obedient Life for the service of God and his Church. (Photo Credit: A Catholic Life)
An Italian weekly magazine called “Panorama” has put the entire Catholic priesthood to another round of condemnation, ridicule and shame from dissenters after it publishes"sexual" escapades of supposedly gay “priests” in the Vicariate of Rome living a “double life” having casual “fling” to male prostitutes.

The magazine captured the attention of its readers by the article’s title “Le notti brave dei preti gay” (The wild nights of gay priests) which was immediately circulated in blogspheres and other news articles. According to the report, Panorama hired gay prostitutes with a reporter who was its accomplices for the expose of priests living a “double life”. The said priests were two Italians and a French man who “happily took part in gay events and had casual sex – deeply disturbing” says one report.

For me, it seems to appear that these “gay priests” having casual sex had no shame at all. In my humble opinion, these priests should leave the priesthood and live a private life of their choice for the sake of those good priests, the priesthood, the entire Catholic Church and the faithful who are mostly affected by the recent child abuse scandal that shocked the Church. The Vicariate of Rome is right when it says “"Know that no one forces them to remain priests, exploiting only the benefits. Coherence would require them to come into the open. We don't wish to hurt them, but we cannot accept that due to their behavior the integrity of the all the rest might be tarnished."

Catholic faithfuls in Rome feel “sorrow and dismay” from this recent scandal rocking the Vicariate of Rome and the entire Catholic Church.

In response, the Vicariate of Rome asks all priests living a double life to come out and leave the priesthood for the sake of the Catholic Priesthood, the Church and the faithful who are the most affected by the recent child abuse scandal done by abusive priests (read the news from CNA)

Though it may be true to some extent, for me, the said article wasn’t exposing priests living a double life for the purpose of weeding out constructively erring Catholic priests. Apparently Panorama has the purpose of defaming again the priesthood intentionally to demonize Catholic Priesthood and the Pope-- a continuation of the series of scandals all the way from the USA, in Europe and other parts of Asia and Africa.

Expectedly, with this latest scandal anti-Catholics in the media and right wing dissenters will certainly hit the Pope overshadowing the effort of the Holy See in weeding out “bad” priests from the priesthood, who, by their “scandalous behavior” blemishes the sacredness of Catholic priesthood. Another opportunity for anti-Catholics and dissenters in mocking the Church, the priesthood and our Christian life. And surely, the Pope again will be carrying the heavy burden this may impact his papacy. Let us Protect the Pope.

Undeniably, just like any Catholic who loves the Church I feel remorseful for this scandal which involves priests. But I hope and pray Catholics will not allow themselves to be scared and succumb to hopelessness for Christ promised the powers of the Enemy “will not prevail against his Church”. These things may pass so as to purify ourselves as Church and look inwardly where we might have neglected the Church and its priests.

"Before such facts we firmly adhere to what the Holy Father Benedict XVI has repeated several times in recent months: 'the sins of priests' call us all back to conversion of heart and life and to be vigilant so as not to 'pollute the faith and Christian life, damaging the integrity of the Church, weakening her capacity of prophecy and testimony, tarnishing the beauty of her face'” say the report at CNS.

May God have mercy on us and look upon with love the Church which he has bought by his blood.

Disappearance of Priest's Wife Leads to Coptic Demonstrations in Egypt

(AINA) -- The unexplained disappearance of a Coptic priest's wife in Upper Egypt has led today a sit-in staged by thousands of Copts at the Coptic Patriarchate in Cairo, to protest what they consider "collusion by the state security services." There are rumors that Islamists have abducted her. They promised to continue with their sit-in until the state security divulges her whereabouts.

Nearly three thousand demonstrators, joined by clergy, protested the lack of protection for Copts by state security, chanting "They abducted the wife of our priest, tomorrow they will abduct us" and "Where are our abducted girls or is it because they are Christians?

Police surrounded the Cathedral to prevent the demonstrators from going out to the streets.

On Monday, July 19, Father Tedaos Samaan, priest at St. Georges Church in Deir Mawas, Minya Governorate, returned home to find that his wife was missing from the previous night. He said that he was on a short visit to his parents with his toddler son, as his teacher wife Kamila Shehata was on a short placement to another school.

According to Father Tedaos (aged 30), the last times he spoke to his wife (24) was at 9.15 PM when she told him that she was at home, and was on her way to overnight at her parent's home, 100 meters away. She never arrived there.

Anba Agapios, Bishop of the dioceses of Delga and Deir Mawas, deplored the treatment by officials of the state security apparatus in Minya. They told him that they have the priest's wife with them and promised to deliver her to her family within hours and then they came back and retracted their statements and their promises to him. Consequently he asked his congregations to go to Cairo and stage a sit-in at St. Mark's Cathedral, until state security acts. He appealed to Copts in all the Egyptian governorates to stand together alongside their brethren during their sit-in.

In an aired interview on July 21 with the newly launched US-based Coptic Hope TV, Father Tedaos said that nearly 3000 of Deir Mawas youths and the neighboring villages "have hired buses to go to the Cairo for the sit-in, however, state security intercepted and detained them on the roads. "Where is the freedom? Are we not allowed to go to our father's house [the Pope] and speak out of what is ailing us?" he said. "But their brothers in Cairo and the other areas will make their voice heard," he assured.

The priest complained of the treatment by the authorities. "Whenever I phone them, they say they have no news and they do nothing. They only give me pain-killers, nothing more." He said state security knows the whereabouts of everyone, "they can even find a needle anywhere in the whole of Egypt."

Father Tedaos said that he obtained the last calls his wife received on her mobile phone from her service provider, and it was a call from an Azhar (related to Al-Azhar) colleague. Father Tedaos went as far as saying in his interview that this Azhar colleague has been planning for one year to send his teacher wife to a placement to another village school. "I gave this information to the security officers, but no one bothered to interrogate him. Now he has completely disappeared," he added.

Coptic activist Sherif Ramzy said that the priest represents the Copts and any assault on him is an assault on all the Copts.

Father Tedaos said that apart from his wife, there have been five other Coptic females who were abducted from Deir Mawas in the last 50 days. "But to abduct a wife of a priest is something else, as he represents the Church," said Sherif Ramzy.

"It is a sin what is happening to the Christians in Egypt," Father Tedaos said. "If the Islamists want to kill us, let them go ahead and do it," he said.

Father Tedaos appealed to President Mubarak for the return of his wife.

By Mary Abdelmassih

Friday, July 23, 2010

Catholicism and Islam

Thanks to Ms. Salome Bintullah, owner of  DAR AL-MASIH for providing us these YouTube Videos of Fr. Corapi. Dar al-Masih is right. It's quite unusual for any Catholic priest to cross that line. Any attempt to proselytize Muslims for conversion is a risky business. As we know, Islam has no "exit doors". Once you convert to Islam, there is no turning back. Those who leave Islam are a sure target for killing because killing could only justify any Muslim deserting Islam.

I salute the courage of Dar al-Masih for pointing out the errors of AHMED DEEDAT, a Muslim "apologiist" who, most converts are indebted too. In the Middle East, books and pamphlets of Ahmed Deedat were translated to Tagalog, Hindi, Nepali, Bangladeshi, Urdu, Malialem, Vietnamese and were freely distributed by converts themselves.  Some of them were put in front of malls, supermarkets, food centers for free. Anyone can take home.

I deeply appreciate the equal courage of ABU DAOUD for providing us very important updates and insights on Islam and the Middle East.

In the Philippines, Bro. Cenon Bibe refutes the claims (mostly rantings) of Filipino converts to Islam. There was a program in the Middle East called "Balik-Islam" (Back to Islam). Here is Bro. Cenon Bibe's SAGOT SA BALIK ISLAM FORUM [Answers for "Back to Islam].

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ): 33 A.D. or 1914 A.D.?

I am personally pleased that one of my regular commentators in my blog like Mr. Plaridel a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo® has created a blog called ”Arephenos”; I hope with his blog.  His blog is quite interesting to read.  However since he too is accusing the Universal Church of Christ being "apostatized", we cannot just sit and read his post.
Did Christ found two Churches?
To start with, Mr. Plaridel, said [inserted numbers in between brackets are mine]:
"[1] I am a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo (church of Christ). It was established by Jesus in the first century. I acknowledge that the Catholic church [sic] was the one established by Christ [2] before it was apostatized and they diverted from the teachings of our lord [sic]. we [sic]do not believe in the [3] Trinity, iconography or idolatry as a factor in the church, or in the [4] use of other people as mediators to God. the [sic] use of this blog is to teach other people about the faith of [5] the Iglesia ni Cristo which was re-established in the Philippines in July 27 1914 buy [sic] [6] Brother Felix Y Manalo. it has come as a fulfillment of multiple biblical prophecy's. If you have any question about the true faith, please comment here or [7] ask a minister nearest to you. any [sic] comment here of anything posted here in unofficial. a minister will be able to give you a consistent and official statement about the doctrines."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Am Not Alone

I am, by the grace of God, full of joy and gladness because I am not alone--Christ is with me. In the midst of this storm I cast my anchor towards the throne of God, the anchor that is the lively hope in my heart.

-from Safely Through the Storm

I prefer the priest with the rosary in his hands, rather than the BlackBerry

Here is the poem, written by Arswendo Atmowiloto:
[Source: AsiaNews]

Source: chanttherosary

“I truly long for a priest who is hospitable…
Priest with kind-hearted personality
Priests with rosaries at their hands rather than the Black Berries
Priests who are kindly listening to their congregation rather than much talking
Priest who easily extend their loving heart to people
Who could “change” despair into hope
Who are competent in both ritual and spiritual richness.”

Spread this simple poem a challenge for our priests (and nuns) and for the entire Catholic faithful.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church's Supreme Pontiff for 27 Years, is now declared VENERABLE

John Paul II declared Venerable, moves one step closer to sainthood 

Source (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI has signed a decree recognizing the late Pope John Paul II's life of “heroic virtue.” With his signature, Benedict XVI throws the door wide open to the beatification of the much-loved Polish Pontiff and gives him the title "Venerable."

On Saturday morning, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints led by Archbishop Angelo Amato met with Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a dicastery of the Holy See and to present decrees for papal approval. Pope John Paul II's name was among the Congregation's nominations for those possessing “heroic virtue.”

The next step towards canonization of John Paul II is a second decree to be signed by the Pope that attributes a miracle to him. It is thought that this miracle will be one that has already taken place but has not yet been officially recognized. The miracle involves a French nun who was cured of Parkinson´s disease through John Paul II's intercession.

Following the approval of his first miracle, Venerable Karol Woytilya would be eligible for beatification, and pending a second miracle, he could be declared a saint.

The Vatican has processed his case in record time. Since the Pontiff´s death, less than five years have passed. Five years is the normal amount of time that must go by before the Holy See can begin the investigation process. In this case, Pope Benedict made an exception just a little over a month after John Paul II's death in March of 2005.

Among other documents signed by Benedict XVI on Saturday morning were decrees authenticating the heroic virtue of Pope Pius XII, Pontiff during World War II; the martyrdom of Jerzy Popiełuszko, a Polish priest killed in 1984, and a second miracle attributed to Bless Mary McKillop, who will now become Australia's first saint.

Here is what people say about him.
"Throughout a hard and often difficult life, he stood for social justice and on the side of the oppressed, whether as a young man facing the Nazi occupation in Poland or later in challenging the Communist regime. He never wavered, never flinched, in the struggle for what he thought was good and right." —British Prime Minister Tony Blair

Voicing a strong moral vision, Pope John Paul II forged a legacy as one of the Catholic Church's most influential and controversial leaders. The 264th pontiff traveled more and beatified more people than any pope in history, and supporters and critics alike agree on the immense significance of his 26-year papacy. –CNN

Read HERE what people say about this saintly Pope during his death in April 2005. See the Dalai Lama paying tribute here

Pope John Paul II prays next to the Stone on Unction (see the image here), inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 26, 2000. The pontiff, on the last day of his six day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, visited the three holy sites of Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Some Highlights.

•Prince Charles' office said his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles has been moved to Saturday so he can attend the the pontiff's funeral.

•Turkish authorities have rejected a request from Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who shot and gravely wounded the pope in 1981, to leave prison to attend the pontiff's funeral, his lawyer told Reuters. The pope forgave his would-be killer two years after the shooting that would mark the start of his slow decline in health.

•The U.S. Senate passed a resolution paying tribute to the pope by a 98-0 vote Tuesday afternoon. The resolution called him "one of the greatest spiritual leaders and moral teachers of the modern era." The senators said John Paul II fostered "harmony between Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians, reached out in friendship to Jews, Muslims and members of other faiths, and warmly promoted interfaith understanding."

•Pope John Paul's funeral brought together the single largest gathering of heads of state in history, surpassing the funerals of Winston Churchill (1965) and Josip Broz Tito (1980). Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions attended, alongside the faithful.[3] It is likely to have been the largest single gathering of Christianity in history, with numbers estimated in excess of four million mourners gathering in Rome

•At the funeral itself, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I attended in the honorary first seat in the sector reserved for delegations from churches not in full communion with Rome; this was the first time an Ecumenical Patriarch attended a papal funeral since the Great Schism. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was present at a papal funeral for the first time since the Church of England broke with the papacy in the 16th century. Also for the first time ever, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, Patriarch Abune Paulos attended a papal funeral.

•It is thought that billions of people watched the funeral either by actually being in Vatican Square, watching it on television live, or watching a taped or replayed version later that day. It is unknown whether the funeral was the most watched event in history; if so, it would overtake two other funerals holding that spot, that of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and that of Michael Jackson in 2009. The Vatican welcomed some four million visitors during the memorial week, which cost an estimated six million euros

Funeral Photos of Venerable John Paul II LIFE
Dignitaries at Venerable John Paul II's funeral HERE
Special Report from CNN

Former President and Mrs. Bush announcing the death of John Paul II

U2 Salutes John Paul II

Muslims Paying Tribute to Pope John Paul II

Be at Peace Today

He will either shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts.

-from Safely Through the Storm

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Good News

The Good News of the Gospel is not that God came to take our suffering away, but that God wanted to become part of it.

-from Safely Through the Storm

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thanks to Ms. Joan Lewis of EWTN

I was personally touched by how sister in Christ Joan Lewis of EWTN shared her fond memories from Iraq in her blog here. Though her departure was frustrating to our brethren in Kirkuk, she had to leave Kirkuk, a calling she has to endure as a "missionary" moving around the world visiting Catholic communities for interviews, reporting and sharing us her profound faith-filled experiences with Catholics living in the Middle East. She was most loved by our brethren in Kirkuk that seeing her leaving was so frustrating and sad moment for them.

With sister Joan’s daily blog, we can have an experience of the lighter side of Iraq. Frequently depicted in major news were bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, suicide attacks—the horrible side of Iraq. It was through these horrific news that Iraq was likened to a Hell on earth that no man should visit.

Fear and suspicion from suicide attacks and kidnapping of foreign workers by Islamic extremists prompted the Philippine government from barring Filipinos to work or visit any place in Iraq. I think our embassy in Baghdad and our consulates in major cities were suspended after the incident of kidnapping Filipinos in July of 2004. So that Filipino passports are stamped with “Not Valid to Travel to Iraq.’

It was very surprising for me to see the lighter side of Iraq. I often read news from AsiaNews but most of the news was taken from other News Agencies, looking Iraq over a distance.

With sister Joan’s blog, it’s like an Insider’s Report where there’s a real interaction with breathing people. It’s very surprising (and yet so consoling) to see new Iraqi priests being ordained, seminarians and Religious Sisters witnessing the event, for me, they are the real witnesses of our Catholic faith in the Middle East. It’s high tide for Catholics around the world to remember them in a very special way, in our prayers offering Masses for them.

Here is sister Joan’s reply in my previous emails, a treasure I will keep. Thank you for sharing to the World your eyes of faith and your immense love for God, Christ, and the Catholic Church.

17 July 2010 

Hello, Ernesto,

Just a brief line as I am preparing my weekend EWTN radio show, "Vatican Insider" - it's a full day of work but I am interrupting to answer a few emails. Yes, of course, publish my letter on your blog and you can link to my blog as well, if you'd like. How do I find your blog - am sure it is fascinating! if I ever return to Qatar, I will surely look you up!

14 July 2010-07

Dear Ernesto,

How wonderful to hear from you! It was exciting to read your letter - I have been to Qatar twice on Vatican business (when I worked for the Vatican) and I visited the Catholic parish there and attended Mass one Pentecost Sunday!!

I have immensely enjoyed my trips to Iraq but have been predominantly in the safer north - in Iraqi Kurdistan - though I did travel to Kirkuk and the diocese - not the city -of Mosul. Bishop Nona is a wonderful and saintly person and I pray many times each day to God to bless him abundantly and protect him and all the Christians of Mosul!!

I am blessed to know such wonderful people, Ernesto. My life is full and rich and I try to share that joy and richness through my writings. More than anything, I want to bring the truth to people. Few knew he truth about Iraq and the plight of Christians until I went there in February and started reporting. Lots of things have happened since then - good things!

May God bless you as well!
Hopefully we can meet some day!

Fr. Samir Khalil Samir says Burqa Ban in France will strive Muslims for Integration

Fr. Samir Khalil Samir is a Jesuit Catholic Priest expert in Islamic studies. For him, the banning of hijab (burqa) – gives Muslim women living elsewhere in Europe to strive for integration. Burqa has no justification in the Quran says Fr. Samir. It’s simply a custom of Saudi Arabia imposed by dominant males in Islamic societies. Those who oppose the banning were mostly women converted to Islam.

Fr. Samir: French ban on burqa a welcome law!

Women Converts to Islam are mostly behind the opposition
Beirut (AsiaNews) - What happened? Two days ago the French parliament passed a law banning the complete covering the face in public places, making it illegal to wear a burqa. The amazing fact is the unanimous nature of the vote (355 out of 500, only 1 against). There has been talk of banning the burqa for over a year in France. Initially, a police survey stated that the phenomenon involved a few hundred. But today - in a similar manner to Islamic countries - there are at least 2 000 people who wear the full veil in France. Likewise, in Egypt, from a few hundred in 2001, that number has now reached up to 16% of women.

Now France is talking about 2000, but if nothing is done, the problem will mushroom. It will spread because it is born of an ideological position. Where does this desire to completely cover women come from?

The burqa is not Islamic

From the start, it needs to be said that there is not the slightest reference in the Koran or Islamic tradition (Sunnah) regarding this issue. Therefore it is not an Islamic norm. None of the Koranic scholars dare say so, but there are many who claim that it is a religious norm.

Its use however is widespread in some countries of Muslim tradition: Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan. The chador has nothing to do with the burqa or the niqab (Arabic word). The burqa is therefore an exception and not a rule at all. But unfortunately these countries - particularly Saudi Arabia - dominate ideology in the Muslim world, their customs, thanks to Saudi Arabia’s money, is becoming more widespread.

For example, millions of Egyptian workers, on returning from working in Saudi Arabia, start living according to Saudi tradition (not Islamic!) forcing their wives also to follow suit. Sometimes they even receive financial support .

The Egyptian man, seeing Saudi women completely covered, grows used to it and feels heartened in his manhood, which moreover is supported – in this case yes – by the Koran itself [see footnote]. Thus, the traditional woman has always understood that to be religious she must be obedient to her husband. So much so that if her husband forbids her to go to pray in the mosque and she goes anyway, she is actually committing a greater sin than not going to the mosque!

There is therefore a predisposition in both sexes to keep wives fully covered, which stems from male jealousy and the subjugation of women. Some women, wearing the burqa, feel protected from inquisitive eyes of men.

It must be said that in many Muslim countries the burqa has been banned because (as in Tunisia) “it is not part of our tradition ", in Turkey it is forbidden in the name of secularism. In Egypt, in November 2009, the late Rector of the Islamic Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, the highest religious authority in Egypt, banned it, saying to students: "The niqab is only a custom, it has no link with Islam, neither close or distant!". In February 2010, Egyptian Prime Minister Nazif, called it "a denial of woman!

So who are those people who want to wear it at all costs in Europe? And why? Usually they belong to the "Salafi" trend, which preaches a return to the tradition the first century of Islam. This is common in many groups of Islamic activists, who attract many European women often through marriage. Years ago I was invited to lecture at Göttingen (Germany) on women in Islam. Those who attacked me were not the Muslim Turks in the room, but only three German women doctors, who had converted to Islam. Wearing the veil, they continued to claim that Islam is the best religion for women.

In fact in France the full veil is worn by women who have never worn it before and also by converts. For this we can conclude that the choice to wear the full veil is not born of tradition or religious values, but a ideological spirit that preaches a return to the cultural tradition of seventh century Arabia, often in opposition to the West.

Moreover, its overnight appearance and its spread is due to recent publicity regarding its use in the Islamic world. With the burqa, they claim to be the only truly authentic Muslims.

The European reaction to the full veil

Europe is reacting to the burqa in a firm and decided manner: since yesterday there is a law against it in France, in Belgium there has been a law banning the full veil for several months, the burqa is banned in Barcelona and it is discussed in other parts of continent.

Europeans are against the burqa because it goes against the European tradition: wearing it is in fact a way to reject integration into European culture.
The phenomenon is small - for now - and involves a few thousand women, but creates immediate revulsion. This dress in one piece of cloth, black, a sort of " woman’s grave" it makes them seem like "walking ghosts". It has become a symbol of the subjugation of women and goes against equality between men and women.

For some time now attempts have been made in the West to reject visible distinctions that create divisions between men and women. But in Arab world as well, since the 1920’s there has been a massive movement, with demonstrations and sit-ins against the veil. And there is a whole genre of feminist literature in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and elsewhere, part of the 1930s campaign against the veil which was a great success. Some imams supported their position. At that time there was no talk of the full veil, even the simple veil was condemned.

Reading the text of the 2007 "Riyadh Declaration"[see footnote], we note that invited Muslim countries start with a premise: We want to reach the world and move towards progress. But this wave of the return of the burqa goes in the opposite direction to progress and is motivated by ideological ends!

On the other hand, the West has its own ideology and sees its use as a humiliation of women. The text of the French law, proposed by Justice Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie said that full covering of the face is contrary to the values of the republic.

It only seems right that the French should defend their culture. The parliamentarians reaction was completely unanimous (only one vote against) . Even the French Socialists – who abstained - have always been against it. When the law was passed in Belgium there were only two against.

This consensus shows that we are touching something important in Western minds. If one considers the ease with which France gives citizenship to migrants, one concludes that the nation has a strong desire for integration. But if the persons in question react by rejecting French or European culture, while simultaneously wanting to live in France or in Europe, then this creates a contradiction and a problem.

The Muslim response

According to the reactions I've read and after participating in several forums on the French law, I can say that the majority of Muslim men and women are against the full veil. Only the fundamentalists (the Salafis) are in favour of it. Yet the majority of Muslims in Europe and France seem to be against this law. I can think that this is only for psychological reasons. "We – they say - are the community that is always pointed out as dangerous, we are victims of Islamophobia, it is an attack against Islam, we are always painted as the bad guys ....

Actually it is the other way round: there is a campaign against Western culture in the Islamic world - at least by a part of Muslims. So who is the aggressor and who the aggrieved? Each group can certainly make judgments about the goodness or otherwise of one or another culture. But if a Westerner is to live in Egypt and then spits on Egyptian culture, at best he should leave. If he does not like the culture if there is no shared feeling, why stay? My culture may have some flaws, but then let us work to change it together, do not despise it from the outset.

Well I have rarely seen Muslims that encourage other fellow Muslims to integrate and fit into the community where they live, the culture of the country where they are. Yet this should be their first natural attitude: gratitude to the country where they are and pride of belonging to this country.

And this raises a question: is being a Muslim or Christian or Jew antagonistic to "being Italian or Moroccan, or Russian? Can we equate religious identity and national identity? Still today, in the West, if people are introducing themselves to a group, they say: "I'm German, or Polish, or Egyptian", but no one thinks of saying "I am a Christian." For the Muslims, the answer is often "I am a Muslim”, as if it indicated belonging to a homeland. The result is a dual belonging, as if saying "I am French, but Muslim." This evokes the attitude of the Jews in 1800, analyzed by Karl Marx in his book "The Jewish Question" (Zur Judenfrage, 1843) in response to the study of the theologian Bruno Bauer, published a few months before with the same title.

I would therefore like to say to the Muslims; it is up to you to educate your people, encouraging them towards integration and not confrontation. Why do your thousands of imams - often paid for by Muslim countries and not by communities in Europe - not teach integration with European culture? Maybe because they are in the front line of those who are anti-Western!

Instead of criticizing the French government or some other European government, why not undertake a little self-criticism, condemn terrorism and those who oppose integration!

In France the Muslim community is not for violence but no Muslim ever come out onto the streets to condemn fundamentalism and Salafism. Yet the struggle against fundamentalism is one of the most urgent priorities of the same Islamic countries. It is now clear that it is fundamentalism that is holding back the development of the Muslim world, right up to the point of becoming fanaticism, which can lead to terrorism.

The law, an invitation to the Muslims of Europe

The recently voted French law seems balanced. It provides for six months of time allow people become used to the new rules, to allow reflection and evolution. The wording is very cautious: it does not talk about the full veil, rather it refers to the complete covering of the face. It explains exactly how and when it is forbidden, it also outlines exceptions (illness, medical bandages, carnival, etc ...). This law does not want to be anti-Muslim - even if the occasion was born of the full “Islamic” veil - but a more general rule that applies to everyone, a standard of living together. The penalties are also interesting: a fine of 150 Euros or citizenship education, a kind of educational training for coexistence.

The law presents a large difference between the penalty for those who wear the burqa (150 Euros) and for those who force others to wear the burqa: a fine of 30,000 Euros a year in prison (twice if it involves a minor). It also explains outlines the following types of cases: men or women (not just husbands or fathers) who by threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power, abuse of authority force someone to cover her face. This shows that the purpose of the Act is to achieve the values of equality and freedom.

Was this law really necessary?

Was it really necessary to do this? Building on the experience of Muslim countries, where the full veil is increasingly becoming the norm despite the desire of those in charge to stop it, I think that without a law, the ideological context of the current Muslim world, would drive more Muslim women to wear it.

Therefore this law is both important and beneficial, not because it's about a piece of cloth, but because it addresses a ideological mentality of opposition and rejection, which ultimately brings more harm to the Muslim community and society overall. The full veil is a symbol that clearly says "No to your civilization."

This symbol is disputed in most Muslim countries in the world! But it is equally important that the French Muslim community, the largest in Europe, enters the playing field and cooperate with all possible means in a common reflection. Beyond the veil, it is about the global attitude to Western society, different from Muslim society [see footnote], better in some aspects but worse in others, which is entitled to exist and to be law. Because they are French Muslims - like all citizens - have a double duty to defend this civilization and criticize it.

Islam is growing in Europe through migration and demography. Are Muslims ready to accept this society where they are a minority (although I always repeat "it is the second religion of Europe")? It would be important to help the Muslim community to integrate into European culture, albeit with the necessary corrections. The Muslims of Arabia will be the ones to make this integration possible, rather the Muslims who already living in Europe. The Muslim world is especially facing modernity. Until the 1970's it tried to assimilate modernity, by reflecting on its culture.

The Salafis tendency is to reject modernity, with the sole exception of the advanced technology it produces, in short, harvest the fruit without learning how to produce it because it's too dangerous! It's time to expand our vision to be 100% European and 100% Muslim or Christian or Jew, or atheist, etc..

The law is thus more an invitation to the Muslim community rather than something against Islam. It is a way to reconcile being a part of French civilization with a Islamic faith deeply lived and rethought.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dressed in Islamic Woman Clothes, a Suicide Bomber attacked Mosque in Iran

Still heatedly debated in France, an Iranian suicide bomber believed to be Sunni Muslim detonated a deadly bomb while worshippers disguising as a Muslim woman wearing "hijab" while Shia Muslims were praying in a mosque for celebrating the birth of "Imam Hussein".

[…]The blasts came as worshippers celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
The second blast proved more deadly as it struck people who gathered to help the wounded.

"The two blasts in front of the mosque have left 22 of our dear ones martyred and 160 wounded," said provincial governor Ali Mohammad Azad.

He said some of the wounded were in a serious condition and warned that the death toll could rise further.

"The [first] attacker, dressed in women's clothing, was trying to get in the mosque, but was prevented," local MP Hossein Ali Shahriari told Fars news agency.

"When people came to rescue those hit in that blast, another bomber blew himself up. Three to four have been killed at least in the first attack" […] read more at BBCNews
Then came the blame on UK and the USA by an Iranian cleric...

"According to reports, the clerical leadership in Iran accused the US of backing Jundullah in order to create instability in Iran."

Veiled Women of Purity and Modesty

Veiling women is not originally "Islamic" so to speak. In fact, according to Wikipedia, this practice pre-dates even the Christian religion. The practice of veiling women in religious sphere comes from the desire of men to keep their women pure, chaste and modest. On the context of Islam, veiling women is already part of their culture both in the religious and social life. It becomes both a symbol of Islamic male dominated culture viewed by some as women oppression. The clash between the Islamic civilization and the secular western civilization hasn’t ended. It’s just the beginning. And the battle fields its democratic rule and tolerance which most western Constitutions are all linked to. [Note: Islamic culture is not compatible with democracy as Shariah is more Theocratic than Democratic.] And since Europe has discarded religion in their day-to-day life Islam will be playing a very significant role of waking up Europe from its slumber and timidity.

Veiling women in Christianity, a true image of purity, modesty and chastity

Though the symbolism of veiling women differs between cultures, the veiling of women in Christianity, particularly in the Catholic Church is a symbol of Purity, Modesty and Holiness rather than women being oppressed.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ is oftenly depicted having a long veil from head down. In her 20th century apparitions, she was seen by visionaries as a woman wearing a veil covering her head down to her hills.
Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal
Our Lady of Lourdes (France) with St. Bernadette Soubirous
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
The Blessed Virgin Mother, infant Jesus and little boy John the Baptist
Patterned to the Blessed Virgin Mother's purity and modesty, Catholic nuns veiled themselves, a symbol of their total dedication of their life, being chaste, virgin, unmarried for "sake of the Kingdom" [Mt. 22:30] (read here)
Mother Angelica founder of EWTN
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta founder of the Missionaries of Charity
A sea of Catholic Nuns
Perpetual Adoration Sister of the Holy Spirit praying before the Blessed Sacrament.  Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (SSpSAP) was founded by St. Arnold Jansen together with the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit (SSpA).  These pious sisters are called 'Pink Sisters" for wearing a unique habit which is actually pink rose.  They are contemplative sisters similar to monastic life. Thanks to RomanCatholicVocations.
(Please visit Catholic Links for the list of Religious Congregations for Women.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

God Alone Suffices

Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. Though all things pass, God does not change. Patience wins all things. But he lacks nothing who possesses God, for God alone suffices.

-from Safely Through the Storm

Why Insist on Veiling Muslim Women and Why is it banned in France?

Iranian veiled women for vigil for the rape and killing of Elnaz Babazadeh. Source: persian2english.
An Iranian Woman Elnaz Babazadeh (26) was raped and killed (read here). What's the reason? She was "improperly dressed".
"The intentions of the savage Basij members was to put a stop to the “improper” way women in society dressed. Basij members believe this is their duty to God."
Perhaps, wearing a proper "burqa" would have saved her life. Is it?

In France, the wearing of "burqa" soon will be banned in public.
Paris, France (CNN) -- France's lower house of parliament Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a ban on any veils that cover the face -- including the burqa, the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women.

The vote was 335 to 1.

The measure must still go to the French Senate before it becomes law. The Senate is expected to vote on it in the week of September 20.

Amnesty International immediately condemned the vote.

"A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab in public as an expression of their identity or beliefs," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's expert on discrimination in Europe.

French people back the ban by a margin of more than four to one, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found in a survey this spring [...]

An positive and objective reaction from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Ms. Seif A. Somalya,  (Arab News)
Where is the war? There is no war on burqa or any particular type of dressing. What is being banned in an ever-growing number of European countries is the complete veiling of face in public places.

Some readers are either overreacting or just making a big deal out of this. There are continuous threats of terror, and veiling the face completely is considered a big security risk. All security apparatus, if they cannot identify the person, will be of no use. In many Western and secular countries women wear bikinis only when they are out in the swimming pool or engage in some aquatic activities. Nobody roams the streets wearing bikinis. Salima Hussain is exaggerating things.

“It is either burqa or bikini” argument is fallacious. Does she find bikini-clad women on Indian streets? We must view other societies through their value systems. It is not a question of vice versus virtue; it is basically a subtle clash of civilizations. Rightly or wrongly, many of these European countries fear a creeping Talebanization of their Muslim citizens. No country has banned hijab per se; it is only complete veiling of face that is frowned on. In Western countries the judiciary is very powerful and one can always appeal to the relevant courts for constitutional protection. Failing this, the best course is to migrate to those countries where niqab is considered a normal way of life."
Perhaps it's a very good advise from a Muslim woman. If Muslim women can't take a secular state's decision, there's Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India-- the best choices for migration and have the joy of wearing full hijab WITHOUT RESTRICTION.

It's not common but it’s good to read positive and objective comments right from Muslims across the world in reaction to the banning of Burqas being worn by Muslim women in secular states like France. Once it’s signed into law, it will be the first law in Europe.

With the up surging tide of Muslim migrants to secular Western countries such as France (thanks to their democratic governments and tolerance) their presence and influence has stirred the acceptance of Western citizens by imposing Halal food in their fast food restaurants and Muslim women wearing Burqa covering the face except the eyes in public places.

These influence imposes Islamism right within French’ secular society introducing Islamic cultures and practices. It’s the beginning of the so called “clash of civilizations.”

Why women are wearing Burqas? Why they’re wearing them in public? Why it becomes an issue?

According to Wikipedia
“A burqa (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈbʊrqa]; also transliterated burkha, burka or burqua from Arabic: برقع‎ burqu‘ or burqa‘ ) is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding a female's body when out in public.”
A burqa is usually associated with wearing the hijab (headscarf) and the niqab (face covering) which is strictly implemented in former Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

Its origin is found in the Quran Sura Nur (Chapter: The Light". Verse 31 it says:
"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. "
I would like to understand this Quranic verse this way. That female beauty attracts males. And when a male is attracted, he is aroused and that arousal means having no control over sex that by covering a lady's beauty, the possibility of sinning could be prevented.  I might be wrong but still my opinion is valid.

If that so, those who insist on veiling women view sex filthy, dirty, and evil. So the desire of seeing an uncovered woman is synonymous to having actual sex with the woman uncovered.

Does it mean women are agents of the devil and that their beauty is a clear temptation from the Devil? What a poor gender.  They were born to be instrument of the Devil for possessing that beauty.

I can only sympathize for women in Saudi Arabia, Taliban controlled Afghanistan, Pakistan and India whose rights of choosing was never given.

So why Burqa became a political issue in France? Is it viewed as Islamism" of the West? Or is it an effect of alleged "Islamophobia". But for Mr. Rober Spencer, it's the other way  around. Here is his personal suggestion on how to counter "Islamophobia" by JihadWatch.org

On "Islamophobia" by Robert Spencer

IN Saudi Arabia, WOMEN ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR the Abaya (same as Burqa). It is MANDATED by the SAUDI ARABIAN law.They have no other choice.

The Abaya should be black. For the authorities, black conceals any attraction and attention from any possible onlookers. All other colors are strictly forbidden. Women wearing black Abayas with embroidered colorful designs are strictly warned by the Muttawas (religious police) or may be severely punished according to their law.

Abayas should not be body-fitted. They should be loose covering from nape to hills. Some families require their female memberss to wear a complete burqa, covering the whole face, the hands and the toe nails. Any Abayas that conceals the contour of a woman’s body (sexy body so to speak) is strictly warned by the Muttawas and any violation has a corresponding severe punishment.
Veiled women (Burqa) in former Islamic Taliban Afghanistan as prescribed by their society.
In the Taliban Afghanistan, the veiling of women was extremely harsh. Punishment for anyone who defies this strict observance of Shariah (Islam rule) was severely punished in public, to some degree, physical punishment in public was just a norm.
Saudi Muslim Women wearing what was prescribed by their society
Non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia wearing "abaya" as the Islamic state requires.
In other words, WOMEN HAVE NO CHOICE but to follow what the Islamic Law (Shariah) allows as Halal (lawful).

The wearing of Burqa in France and any city in the West is not similar to women wearing Burqa in strict Islamic societies I have mentioned.  As I understand Muslim female wearing Burqas in the West HAVE  THE CHOICE and PERSONAL FREEDOM to wear them therefore Muslim women in the West can freely choose not to wear the complete Hijab.  It's the other way of saying "I'm proud to be a Muslim" accusing Muslims of "Supremacist ideology" being implemented in the West.  We should note that  innon-Muslims cannot freely practice their faith in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
Muslim women in France demanding their freedom to wear the "hijab" while non-Muslims in Islamic states are not allowed to exercise their rights NOT TO WEAR the abaya.
In other words, the wearing of hijab in France is politically motivated with religious undertones.  But since radical and extremist Muslims use these identities for terroristic activities, France secular laws prohibits women from wearing full burqa or hijab covering the face.

Banning the wearing of Hijab in France is reasonable.  Western countries are bracing itself from constant threat of terrorist attacks mostly perpetuated by Muslim (as they identify themselves with Islam).  Muslims on the other hand cannot blame non-Muslims for stereotyping them.  They should make a bold step in criticizing their own and start denouncing any desire by Muslim extremists to replace Western secular laws to Sharia.

Mr. Rober Spencer should be credited for honestly bringing his cause for JihadWatch, unless Muslims can do something about the growing menace in the world by "Islamic" insurgents from Philippines to Paris.

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