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Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Pope Announces U.S. Visit After Saudi King’s Vatican Visit

Posted by infinitygoods on November 12, 2007

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Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate his third anniversary as pontiff of the Catholic Church by traveling to the United States, where he will visit the White House and New York’s ground zero site of the 9/11 Muslim terrorist attacks, and will speak at the United Nations during a five-day trip April 15-20.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Vatican ambassador to the United States, told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops today that “the pope will not travel much, but he will address himself to the people of the United States and the whole Catholic Church.”

A welcome reception will be held at the White House on April 16.

Sambi says the pope wants to show “solidarity with those who have died, with their families and with all those who wish an end of violence and in the search of peace.”

This official announcement comes six days after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia gave a jeweled sword to the pope, and on the Monday of the Veterans Day federal holiday.

Pope receives jeweled sword from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

A sword is a traditional Muslim gift given to heads of state. Is it meant as a symbol of trust or as a warning? That is the double-edged question.

The meeting between the king and the pope will surely be the hottest topic between the pope and President George Bush.

Saudi Arabia does not even grant diplomatic relations with the Holy See. As Victor L. Simpson of the Associated Press so aptly said in his article about the visit on Nov. 6, “Islam is the official religion of Saudi Arabia and the kingdom requires all Saudi citizens to be Muslims. Only Muslims can visit the cities of Mecca and Medina.

“Under the authoritarian rule of the royal family, the kingdom enforces strict sharia, or Islamic law. It follows a severe interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism which rejects the possibility of diplomatic relations with a Christian entity. This interpretation would prohibit a Vatican embassy in Saudi Arabia on the grounds it would be equivalent to raising the cross inside the site of Islam’s holiest places.

“It is forbidden to practice Christianity publicly inside Saudi Arabia, and it is illegal to bring symbols from religions other than Islam into the country. Bibles and crosses, for instance, are confiscated at the border.

“Some Christian worship services are held secretly, but the government has been known to crack down on them, or deport workers from the Philippines if they are known to hold even private services.”

The pope was also given a small statue of a camel by a palm tree and in return gave King Abdullah a 16th-century engraving of the Vatican and a gold medal of his pontificate.

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Baptism Important to Russell Crowe, Will Receive Sacrament This Year In His Family Chapel

Posted by infinitygoods on November 8, 2007

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Outside of Russell Crow’s Family ChapelInside of Russell Crow’s Family Chapel — Photos courtesy Oprah Winfrey Show

Russell Crowe, 43, Academy Award Winner, told Men’s Journal in the upcoming December 2007 issue that he wants to be baptized this year at the same time as his 1-year-old son, Tennyson, in the Byzantine chapel he built on his Australian ranch for personal contemplation and expanded in 2003 for his wedding to actress-singer Danielle Spencer.

“I’d like to do it this year. If I believe it is important to baptize my kids, why not me?” he says.

Crow, who starred in “Gladiator,” “Beautiful Mind” and currently “American Gangster” with Denzel Washington, has shown deep spirituality and romance when he first built a small wooden chapel on his ranch because he felt the need for a sacred place for personal contemplation. His brother was married in the wooden chapel.

“I do believe there are more important things than what is in the mind of man. There is something much bigger that drives us all. I’m willing to take that leap of faith.”

Later he would add on a 26-foot dome, inspired by the Roman skyline and his visits to Paris, for his bride-to-be. In an interview for the Oprah Show in 2003, he said, hinting at the future, “This is a great place. … Now we can host christenings and other marriages. Maybe my son’s wedding. That would be interesting.”

The circular portion of the chapel, circular to “create a circle of friends,” is made of stone with stained glass windows ,and on the floor is a mosaic from the second century A.D. Crow says the chapel has been consecrated. His wedding was officiated by a bishop, and his oldest son, Charlie, 3, has already been baptized in the chapel.

“I remember standing in the chapel, and just as the bishop started talking, the afternoon sun hit the center of that stained glass window and just ran up Daniel’s dress in golds and reds and blues. … It was gorgeous,” he said on Oprah’s television show.

Crowe told Men’s Journal that his parents had not baptized him because they had wanted their children to make their own decisions regarding the sacrament and God.

Although speaking of faith and God could be particularly damaging in the liberal, atheistic, Hollywood mind-set, Crowe has taken a Christian stand that he does believe in God, that baptism matters to him and that he is not afraid to let the world know about his spirituality.

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