Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Edward Pentin reporting from Rome — When Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass tomorrow, seated on his right will be cardinals, bishops and — for the first time in over 1,000 years at a Mass of this kind — the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
On his left will be heads of state and ministers including President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Vice President Joe Biden and congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.
Delegations from 132 countries have confirmed their presence at the ceremony which officially marks the beginning of Pope Francis’s pontificate. These include six reigning sovereigns, 31 heads of state, three crown princes, 11 heads of government and many other dignitaries.
But the Vatican, keen to avoid accusations that it had invited the likes of Jesuit-educated Mugabe to the Mass, has stressed that no one received invitations. “The delegations are coming to Rome following information of the event made public by the [Vatican] Secretary of State,” said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. “There were no 'invitations' sent out. All who wish to come are warmly welcomed.”
The liturgy in St. Peter’s Square is expected to be relatively simple and “not too long,” the Vatican said, and interestingly, Pope Francis will not be distributing holy communion. It’s not immediately clear why, but the Vatican seemed to infer it was to keep the Mass shorter and simpler.
Observers, however, believe it is so the Pope is not put in the awkward position of giving communion to Catholics such as Biden and Pelosi whose public positions on abortion are at odds with Catholic teaching. As cardinal, Pope Francis was categorical in disallowing holy communion to any who facilitated an abortion, politicians included.
Also seated close to the Pope will be Jewish and Muslim representatives and members of other religions, together with around 1,200 priests and seminarians as well as diplomats accredited to the Holy See and civil authorities.
The rest of the piazza is expected to be packed with pilgrims and tourists. The Vatican has said everyone is welcome, and no tickets are required. Rome authorities are preparing for up to a million people to attend the Mass, although the final number is expected to be lower.
Among those present tomorrow, perhaps the most remarkable is that of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. It is the first time in over a thousand years that the Greek Orthodox leader has attended a papal inauguration and points to great improvements in Catholic-Orthodox relations in recent years.
Bartholomew — the spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox faithful worldwide — has said he is attending the Mass to underscore the importance he attaches to "friendly ties" between the churches in a “new era.”
He also said his participation reflects expectations that Pope Francis will advance rapprochement efforts that began decades ago. "I am very hopeful in this matter," he said in an interview shortly before leaving for Rome.
Jesuit Father James McCann, rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome said “it’s a wonderful, concrete sign of what we can develop in building Christian unity.”
Traditionally, delegations from both churches visit each other annually. Bartholomew also attended Pope John Paul II’s funeral in 2005. But this is an unprecedented event in modern times, and Bartholomew noted that even before the schism, a patriarch from Istanbul did not attend a papal inauguration.
“This relationship has been building over the years and certainly Benedict XVI’s pontificate was key,” said McCann, who recalled the patriarch’s visit to the Pontifical Oriental Institute — where Bartholomew studied for a doctorate — in 2008. The Orthodox had great respect for Benedict XVI, and particularly valued his approach to the liturgy.
The patriarch’s attendance is also helpful to the Orthodox Church in Istanbul. “It’s important for him to be visible as well,” said a Vatican official on condition of anonymity, “because Christians in Istanbul are very few — maybe 10,000 — and they are being pressured to leave Istanbul.” Attacks on Christians have risen recently as Turkey gradually moves away from a secular state and towards a more hard line Islamic one.
Pope Francis will enter St. Peter’s Square in the Popemobile shortly before 9am and travel around the square so the crowd will be able to see him up close.
Then, during the Mass, six representative cardinals will approach the Pope to make an act of obedience. This emphasis on obedience is new — one of the last acts of Benedict XVI and emblematic of his wish to foster unity around the successor of Peter. The cardinals who elected Pope Francis have already pledged to obey the Pope, at the end of the Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. And at the moment when the Pope “takes possession” of the Cathedral of Rome — the basilica of St. John Lateran — another act of obedience will be made, this time by representatives of the various members of the laity.
The Pope will give his homily in Italian and, as is becoming clear, he will probably include some spontaneous remarks.
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Greek-Orthodox-Pope-Reconciliation/2013/03/18/id/495237#ixzz2Nzd0FLei
In an explosive new book, Exo-Vaticana: Petrus Romanus, Project L.U.C.I.F.E.R and the Vatican’s Astonishing Plan for the Arrival of an Alien Savior, authors Thomas Horn and Cris Putnam offer compelling evidence that the Vatican is positioning itself as a religious authority in anticipation of the imminent disclosure by world governments of the existence of extraterrestrial life.
In the book to be released March 19, the authors – whose last book Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here correctly predicted one year in advance that Pope Benedict XVI would resign and that a new Pope of Italian descent would take his place – outline how the world’s oldest-running bureaucracy is secretly setting itself up to be the agent of a mass end-times deception predicted in the Bible.
The book includes a host of statements from Vatican astronomers, some of which the authors interviewed and visited with at the Vatican Astronomical Technology Telescope (VATT) on Mt. Graham in Arizona. The bizarre testimonies confirm a growing belief that disclosure may be made in the near future of alien life, including intelligent life, and that this encounter will not challenge the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.
Now, only days after the election of the first Jesuit pope – Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) – Horn and Putnam claim inExo-Vaticana that these Vatican astronomers are developing theological arguments concerning extraterrestrial intelligence that could have a dramatic impact on the faith of the world’s 2.3 billion Catholics and Protestants.
“The Jesuits and members of Opus Dei have written in the form of official church theology brand new doctrinal papers, which we’re publishing, that I think are absolutely going to shock the world,” Horn says.
“They evidently know something that the rest of us don’t that seems to point to a very imminent official disclosure moment. According to Father Malichi Martin, they have been watching something on its approach to earth of great and historic importance for more than a decade, even using the LUCIFER device atop Mt. Graham to monitor it in recent years. Sometime soon, this is going to mean that the Vatican, the largest Christian organization in the world, is going to tell everybody, ‘It’s okay and these are our space brothers – and not only are they are our space brothers – they’re closer to God than we are and they have come to show us the way.”
However, instead of an E.T. savior that will deliver humanity from the growing possibility of thermonuclear destruction and other existential threats, Horn and Putnam argue this disclosure would actually be part of the ultimate, end-times deception predicted in the Bible.
“Although Jesus, Himself, is prophesied to appear in the clouds during an era of great earthly trials (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18), predominant among prophecy scholars is the idea that coupled with any heavenly appearing and concurrent salvation of believers from chaos will first be the materialization of a false Christ or ‘man of sin,’ Horn says.
“Where the Hopi see a blue star and Vatican astronomers see their ‘space brothers’ en route to guide us into the light, evangelical Christians understand the Antichrist will initially assume the role of a fabricated end-times messiah who mimics the return of Christ with a false second coming that also happens to be attended by heavenly ‘signs and lying wonders’ (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).”
Australian experts are concerned about the threat of a new type of drug-resistant pandemic flu that is circulating in the population at large.
The swine flu strain has learned how to dodge the antiviral Tamiflu and, though rare, is emerging outside of hospitals.
The team who have studied it say the virus is "fitter" than other drug-resistant strains and the world should be on alert for outbreaks.
UK experts say they have seen a handful of similar cases.
The UK's Health Protection Agency said it would be closely monitoring the situation.
The Australian investigators presented their findings at a meeting on major infectious diseases.
Experts at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases heard how the 'H1N1pdm09' swine flu virus is still sensitive to another antiviral drug Relenza (zanamivir).
But Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is now powerless against the strain that has been found in people in the community rather than sick patients with serious underlying conditions and weak immune systems.
Vaccines can prevent infection occurring in the first place.
Lead investigator Dr Aeron Hurt, from the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, said: "The greatest concern is that these resistant viruses could spread globally, similar to that seen in 2008 when the former seasonal H1N1 virus developed oseltamivir resistance and spread worldwide in less than 12 months."
The new strain that they have been examining is emerging among people who have never been treated with Tamiflu, suggesting it is very good at spreading from person to person.
Dr Hurt says animal studies by his team confirm this.
Although the Tamiflu-resistant strain is still relatively rare, affecting about 2% of people with swine flu in the Australian population that they studied, Dr Hurt is concerned that it has the potential to turn global.
Similar resistant strains have been detected in Europe but at this stage only on an ad hoc basis, says Dr Hurt.
"The widespread transmission and circulation of oseltamivir-resistant H1N1pdm09 viruses remains a risk in the future.
"Close monitoring of resistant viruses in both treated and community patients remains important."Pandemic potential
In the UK, the HPA has recorded eight cases of oseltamivir-resistant H1N1pdm09 in the community setting.
The HPA's head of flu surveillance Dr Richard Pebody said: "While the frequency of oseltamivir resistance in community settings has increased slightly since the 2009-10 pandemic from 1-2% in the 2012/13 flu season, rates of detection remain low."
Swine flu (H1N1) infected a fifth of people during the first year of the pandemic in 2009, data suggest.
It is thought the virus killed 200,000 people globally.
Although the pandemic has been declared by officials as over, the virus is still circulating.
During the pandemic, the H1N1 virus crowded out other influenza viruses to become the dominant virus. This is no longer the case. Many countries are reporting a mix of influenza viruses.
Astronomers are already getting set for the arrival of Comet ISON, which may become one of the brightest comets ever seen when it cruises through the inner solar system this fall.
NASA has brought together a small team of experts to organize an observing campaign for Comet ISON, which could potentially shine as brightly as the moon when it makes its closest pass by the sun in late November if the most optimistic scenarios play out.
Coordinating the efforts of observatories on the ground and in space should help wring as much quality science as possible out of the comet's solar flyby, Comet ISON Observing Campaign (CIOC) officials said.
"It's a rare opportunity that we've got such a long heads-up time, so we actually have time to organize a campaign like this," said Karl Battams, a scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Lab in Washington and a member of the eight-person CIOC Team. "There's a lot of new science that we could get from this."
Bringing everyone together
Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok discovered Comet ISON in September 2012 after poring over photographs taken by a telescope run by the International Scientific Optical Network. Hence the comet's official name, which is C/2012 S1 (ISON)
ISON is a sungrazing comet, meaning its long, looping path through space takes it extremely close to our star. Indeed, ISON is forecast to zoom just 680,000 miles above the solar surface on its closest approach, which will take place on Nov. 28.
Comet ISON could put on a spectacular show around this time, experts say, potentially glowing so brightly that it's visible in the daytime sky. (The comet poses no impact threat to Earth.)
Skywatchers aren't the only people looking forward to the icy wanderer's solar encounter. Astronomers are excited as well, for ISON's flyby could give them a rare window into comet composition.
"Sungrazers experience the most intense thermal and gravitational stresses of any comet. There's a lot of sublimation of material that doesn't normally sublimate," Battams told SPACE.com. "Once [ISON] gets really close in to the sun, then we could start to see some of the composition that you wouldn't normally get."
So Battams and his colleagues have contacted major ground-based observatories, raising awareness of the comet's flyby and encouraging them to solicit ISON-observing proposals. The response has been warm, with telescope operators typically voicing enthusiasm about the campaign, Battams said.
The CIOC crew has also reached out to some spacecraft mission teams, asking them to consider taking a look at the comet at some point. And a number of them are already on board.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/03/18/astronomers-gearing-up-for-possible-comet-century/#ixzz2NzaCTM5V
One by one, counties and towns across New York State are launching resolutions denouncing the state’s new gun ban, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, as egregious and unconstitutional.
“Right now we have 51 out of 62 counties opposed or in the process of opposing the New York SAFE Act,” said Columbia County resident Evan Hempel.
Hempel who is a computer programmer for IBM created a website dedicated to compiling New York Town and County resolutions both for and against the NY SAFE Act of 2013, as well as provide related news.
“The issue boils down to property rights,” said Hempel, who is also a Clermont Town Board member.
“What right does the government have to tell citizens what they can or cannot purchase?” he asked.
Kevin A. Roberts, a three-term Ulster County legislator said, “Two-hundred and fifty activists showed up at our county meeting in support of our resolution opposing the process of enactment and certain provisions within the NY SAFE Act.”
Ulster County was one of the first counties to oppose the measure, he said.
“Our resolution was in reaction to a proposal by the minority Democrat caucus to act in support of the Governor’s new law,” said Roberts, a general contractor.
That idea back-fired, he said. “Our resolution was the brain child of the Democrats.”
Edward A. Rath, III, a three-term legislator from Erie County and lead sponsor of the resolution “Opposing NY Safe Act,” said the reason why the people oppose the new law is two-fold.
“First, it is a fundamental violation of our Second Amendment rights, and secondly, we oppose the procedure in which it was passed,” he said.
“Without the normal three-day review process, the state government rushed to judgment,” said the life-long NRA member and avid sportsman.
“It is not enough to make minor changes. We need to get into the guts of it, change it, or repeal it altogether,” he said.
Rath said the law is so poorly written it does not exempt police officers, yet it exempts Hollywood actors from the law.
“That’s incredible,” he said. “Our governor is trying to score political points instead of protecting our constitutional rights.”
Dennis W. Simmons, a freshman Orange County legislator said he was infuriated by the passage of the NY SAFE Act. “We want full repeal of the law.”
The governor was not focused on public safety, he said.
“Cuomo’s initial intent was to confiscate guns, which is a clear infringement of our right to keep and bear arms,” he said.
Simmons said the county passed the resolution by keeping it simple. “We followed the lead of the Town of Deerpark.”
The Town of Deerpark was one of the first towns to sign a resolution that opposes the NY SAFE Act. “We wanted to keep the movement going,” he said.
Orange County is made up of 11 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one Independent, he said.
“The Orange County legislature passed our resolution 17 to three with one absent,” said the retired NYS Department of Corrections officer.
Simmons, who spent 24 years as a member of the Air National Guard, said the law restricts law abiding citizens and gives murderers more access to kill.
“Criminals will not worry themselves over bullets or magazines. The new law gives them the tactical advantage,” he said.