[SHOCKING] Priest Named Rev. Father James Ani Leads Robbery Operation

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Read Time:2 Minute, 25 Second

An area known as Imeohia Mmaku in Awgu LGA of Enugu State recently came under the siege of robbers cum kidnappers, who invaded the community to perpetrate theirheinous crime. On the fateful day, a priest was said to have led some notorious gang of robbers/kidnappers in the deadly operation.While the operation lasted, the gang sealed off entrances and exits to the community. Clad in a white cassock, Rev. Fr. James Ani, in company with about eight other people held the community by the jugular and laid siege on their prey for hours.

It was gathered that they combed the community to see if they could find a prime target to kidnap on which theycould feed. As the siege was going on, a team of anti-robbery patrol team usually on routine checks on communities in the state was passing by and accosted the gang.On seeing the police team, Fr. Ani reportedly commanded his ‘boys’ to launch offensive.

Wielding dangerous weapons, the gang reportedly engaged the police team in fierce gun duel which further sent habitants of the community and travellers scampering for safety.During the clash, Fr. Ani and his gang reportedly got hold of one Inspector Cosmas Nzeribe and a couple of his colleagues, and almost sniffed life out of them.

They how ever bowed to the superior fire power of the law enforcement agents leading totheir arrest. Before they were arrested, the hoodlums damaged the two vehicles used by the police.

In the end,Fr. Ani and three others; UgwuMarcel, Obasi Felix and Norbert Eke were arrested and taken to custody. About five other members of the gang escaped from the scene of the attack.In a chat with reporters, an eye witness, who identified himself as Okey, said:

“I ply this road very often and I can tell you that most travellers had had harrowing experiences to share about this place.

It is such a bad spotand when the robbers were arrested and we saw a supposed man of God among them, not many of us were surprised because we had experienced that before in this area. Criminals would put on cloths meant for the clergymen to rob people. Thank God, this one was caught.”

At the time of his arrest, Fr. Ani claimed that he is not a robber but a priest. However, upon interrogation, he confessed to his crime, saying he was pushed into the crime due to lull in his business. Spokesman of Enugu Police Command, Ebere Amaraizu confirmed the arrest.

He said “The Commissioner of Police has said it many times that there is no hiding place for criminals again in Enugu. This statement he is matching with actions which are evident in the arrest of the four suspects.Imagine someone supposed to be a man of God, being the ring leader in such a crime!”

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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This Pastor Disguised as a Destitute to His Church and his members Refused To Help Him

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Read Time:3 Minute, 18 Second
When I was growing up in the 80s in Nigeria, the church is where you go when you need help, love and any and every kind of assistance. Guess what? You'll get the attention of the big people (Pastors and assistance) as that is their purpose – to help the vulnerable and needy.
 
But what do we get these days? Pastors competing with themselves over who has the best suits, the best cars and, in recent times, who enjoy more beautiful girls in the "Pastoral Cure Unit". Now the mess has spread to church members, many are living the artificial life rather than be of help to their neighbour.
 
Below is what happened to this pastor who disguised as a destitute to his church:
 
Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. 
He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the about 10,000 people said hello to him.
He asked people for change to buy food – no one in the church gave him change.
He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit in the back. 
He greeted people only to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him. 
As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such.
When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. 
“We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. 

The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with all eyes on him. 

He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited: “Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 
“Then the righteous will answer him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. 
He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”
Pastor Jeremiah Steepek then dismissed service until next week.
Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ should be more than just talk. It ought to be a lifestyle that others around you can love about you and share in.
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Oritsejafor: Respond to El-Rufai’s accusations, Eyieyien urges Christians

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Read Time:1 Minute, 15 Second

A senatorial aspirant for Edo Central, Mr. Egheomhanre Eyieyien, yesterday, urged Christians to respond to recent outbursts of the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, concerning President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.

In a statement, yesterday, Eyieyien said El-Rufai remains the National General Secretary of All Progressives Congress, APC, and some people listen to him.

He said: “CAN cannot and should not ignore El Rufai’s outbursts because lies have a way of being perceived as truth when often repeated. El-Rufai has taken up a crusade against CAN President, Pastor Oritsejafor and has said several damaging things.

“He claims he knows the person that bought the jet which members of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, Delta State, contributed money to buy as a gift for Pastor Oritsejafor to celebrate his birthday and his 40th year in ministry.”
He said that the umbrella body of Christians in the country should challenged El-Rufai to disclose who he says actually provided the funds.

He said: “How can such an issue be ignored by CAN, when it calls to question the integrity of the official leader of Christians in Nigeria?

“How can El-Rufai say that the President of CAN is the ‘propaganda spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party’ and some people cannot see the agenda at play? Is the CAN President a politician? Is he a member of any political party?”

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Muslim Cleric defrauds friend of N9.5m

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Read Time:2 Minute, 14 Second

A 34-year-old man, who poses as a Muslim cleric to defraud gullible Nigerians has been arrested by operatives of the Special Fraud Unit, SFU, Ikoyi, Lagos, for allegedly defrauding one of his victims of N8 million.

The suspect, identified as Isiaka Adeleke, popularly known as Alfa, was said to have collected the sum from a childhood friend, who came for prayers for the expansion of his business.

The complainant, who reportedly took the N8 million loan to expand his dwindling business, told operatives that he confided in Adeleke that he intended to use the money to buy a truck for his business.

However, in the process, Yusuf was said to have demanded for the money to enable him go into the spiritual realm to tackle spiritual forces hindering the success of his friend’s business.

However, the victim returned a week later as instructed, only to discover that Yusuf had changed residence.

Spokesman for the Unit, Ngozi Isintume-Agu, said that Yusuf’s arrest was effected in Ilorin, KwaraState, following a petition by the complainant.

She said: “The complainant stated that he was defrauded in March and effort to reach Yusuf had been abortive as his phones were all switched off.

“The complainant further stated that the Alfa, under the pretense of selling a LEXUS 300 Car imported from USA to him, obtained additional N1.5 million and later registered the said vehicle in his name. He alleged that the total money collected from him by the suspect was N9.5 million.”

‘How I spent the money’

Adeleke, who was paraded weekend, admitted to have collected the sum and pleaded to be given time to refund the money.

Asked what he used the money for, he said: “I used part of it to buy two cars, a Toyota Camry and a Mercedez Benz and also completed my building project in Ilorin, while I shared the balance among my fellow Alfas in Ila-Orangun, OsunState.

“I tricked him into believing that I can double the money. I instructed him to put the money inside a box in my room and leave it for seven days, while he takes the key with him.

“However, unknown to him, I had a spare key which I later used to unlock the box and absconded. All I beg for is to be given time to pay back the money.”

Isintume-Agu advised members of the public to be wary of the likes of Yusuf when seeking spiritual help from so-called religious clerics, “as most of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Pope keeps archbishop who handles nun crackdown, sex abuse

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Read Time:4 Minute, 8 Second
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis, on Saturday, effectively demoted a highly conservative Italian cardinal who led the Vatican's department on clergy, while keeping in place a German prelate who wages the Catholic church's crackdown on liberal U.S. nuns and helps craft its sex-abuse response.
 
After six months on the job to study the workings of the Vatican's curia, or bureaucracy, Francis has now put his imprint on several key positions, which help administer the Roman Catholic church's worldwide flock. His management picks will likely both please and disappoint both conservatives and liberals alike, perhaps in line with his fledgling papacy, which has often defied labels in either camp.
 
Francis removed Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, with a reputation for being highly traditional on matters of liturgy and the question of priestly celibacy, from the important post of prefect of the Congregation for clergy. Piacenza had only held that post since 2010, when he was appointed by Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, whose retro tastes in papal vestments and preference for traditional ceremonies found a supporter in the Italian prelate.
 
The pope transferred Piacenza to a decidedly lower command post, that of head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a little-known Vatican tribunal that deals with confessions of sins so grave only a pope can grant absolution, such as the case of a priest who violates confessional secrecy.
 
Piacenza will be replaced by another Italian, Beniamino Stella, already serving in the Vatican's bureaucracy. His office faces many challenges, including how to reverse a priest shortage in much of the developed world and respond to persistent calls from within the rank-and-file faithful, as well as some clergy that the pope consider allowing priests to marry.
 
In another important decision, Francis left Archbishop Gerhard Mueller in the powerful role of prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Mueller, originally appointed by Benedict XVI, directs the Holy See's crackdown on nuns suspected of undermining Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality. His office also shapes policy dealing with clergy who sexually abuse minors.
 
Under Mueller's tenure, critics of the Vatican's strategy have so far been frustrated in their lobbying for Vatican and other church hierarchy to be held accountable for policy that for decades left pedophile priests in their ministry, merely shuffling them from parish to parish when complaints emerged.
 
In another watched appointment, Monsignor Nikola Eterovic, who was the official in charge of bishop synods, the occasional gatherings that bring bishops together to discuss important policies or regional problems, was transferred to the Vatican's diplomatic corps. He will now serve as papal ambassador to Germany.
 
Just how much influence the conclusions of these synods should have at the Vatican has long been debated. By putting a new man in charge of that office, Francis, who was archbishop of Buenos Aires when elected pope, has the opportunity to apply his vision to the role of bishops in the church's decision-making policy.
 
Francis picked Monsignor Lorenzo Baldisseri, who had long served in Vatican diplomatic posts in South America, to lead the synod office. In appointing new Vatican managers, the pope, who has said repeatedly he likes to be in touch with ordinary people, has now turned to several diplomats, whose careers have taught them to be closely attuned to local sensibilities in their posted countries.
 
In the wide-ranging interview he gave to fellow Jesuits over the summer, and which was published earlier in the week, Francis indicated he would like to see structural reforms at the synod level and in other church areas. But more than concrete detail, the pope is stressing a need for attitude change. If his vision of a church more embracing of its flock takes root, that could mean greater influence in Vatican policy-making by church's bishops, who deal with the wide variety of issues and circumstances often particular to their churches.
 
In a separate development, the Vatican confirmed that Francis would lead an assembly of cardinals on Sept. 30, in the Apostolic Palace to announce the much-awaited date for the ceremony to make both Pope John XXIII and John Paul II saints. Thousands of faithful are expected to flock to St. Peter's Square the day of the announcement.
 
A first plan to hold the solemn ceremony for both widely beloved pontiffs envisioned holding the canonization on Dec. 8, when the Church celebrates a feast day in honor of the Virgin Mary. But that date soon was deemed as impractical, since great numbers of Poles from John Paul's homeland would risk driving or taking buses on what could be dangerously icy roads to come to the ceremony. Sometime in spring 2014, when weather is milder, is considered the likely choice.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Syrian Christians may get pulled into war

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Read Time:5 Minute, 56 Second
ISTANBUL — A huge statue of the Virgin Mary towers over churches, monasteries and mosques in the Syrian city of Maaloula, where a dialect of the Aramaic language of Jesus is still spoken.
 
The town has managed to stay out of the Syrian conflict between Sunni Muslim rebels and the regime of dictator Bashar Assad, as have most of Syria's 2 million Christians.
 
But worsening violence has forced the community into a corner: Continuous clashes between the rebels and the regime in this isolated town of 2,000 people as well as other Christian towns over the past two weeks have many Christians worried that they will no longer be allowed to stay neutral.
 
"The Christians now live in a terror," said Hussam, a Christian from the nearby town of Saidnaya, who asked not to be identified because he feared for the safety of his family if he was to talk openly. "But they want to stay in Syria no matter what."
 
In the latest major attack on a Christian district, rebels fighting alongside members of the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra stormed a government checkpoint at the entrance to the town Sept. 4. The rebel aim was to seize control of a portion of the Damascus-Homs highway, a main route from the capital of Damascus.
 
The highway runs to rebel-held territory to the north and thus a key supply line for whoever can hold it.
 
Fearful that the town would be destroyed, hundreds of Christian men from Saidnaya just outside Damascus and elsewhere joined Assad's troops to oust the rebels.
 
"Many of us came from the next town and about 30 others came from the Bab Touma and Qassa," said Sari, a 24-year-old civilian who asked not to be identified out of fear of being targeted by the rebels. "We heard that Jabhat al-Nusra (was) kidnapping girls and destroying churches in Maaloula, so we went there for three days to fight al-Nusra."
 
Residents told news media outlets that when rebels entered Maaloula they destroyed precious censors, or incense holders, and Bibles from several churches. Some accused rebels of shelling churches and homes in the town. Others dispute those accounts.
 
There were early reports rebels had damaged St. Taqla's, a 4th-century convent known for its bright blue cross atop a rounded cupola and for its powers of healing. Mother Bilajea Saeaf, director of the Maaloula's St. Tekla Convent, told Lebanese LBC TV that the facility has been untouched.
 
"No one came near us, and no one shot at the churches or the locals, nor did they assault the nuns," Saeaf said.
 
Syrian rebel groups say the Syrian military carried out the shelling of the town and is blaming rebels to stir up trouble. In an unverified video posted to YouTube after the initial attack, a commander for the rebel Free Syrian Army in Maaloula is seen ordering his soldiers to "respect and protect the holy sites and historical churches."
 
The small homes of Maaloula wind up a rugged mountain, and once on top one can see a green expanse below of fig trees and vineyards. The town is home to mainly Antiochian Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics and Muslims.
 
One of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria is here. Called Mar Sarkis, it is the Arabic name for St. Sergius, a Roman soldier executed for his Christian beliefs.
 
Christians have lived here for centuries. They have largely supported Assad's regime but are increasingly pawns in the propaganda war between the rebels and the regime.
 
The Syrian government has gone to great lengths to present itself as the sole protector of Christians and other religious minorities, saying it is locked in a battle with terrorists and foreign jihadists bent on destroying the country's secular fabric.
 
Sama TV, a pro-Assad television station, reported that three Christians were killed by "terrorists" during clashes in Maaloula last week. Its footage — impossible to verify — showed hundreds of angry mourners at a church in Damascus chanting support for Assad.
 
Christians hold important roles in Syria's military. And the Assad regime today is heavily dependent on the National Defense Forces — groups of local militias armed by the government — to keep rebels from entering strategic towns and districts around the country.
 
Towns such as Saidnaya to the north of Damascus and a cluster of towns west of Homs collectively known as the "Wadi," or valley, have been guarded by armed Christian civilians for months as attacks against the community have increased since the outbreak of the uprising more than two years ago.
 
But Muslim militias say the idea that the regime is protecting Christians is "foolish," said Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University.
 
"They say, if the regime had only given up, then this level of violence would have never taken place," Landis said.
 
"What's happening in Maaloula has happened in one town after the next across Syria. Rebels take a town, the regime responds with overwhelming power and force, lobbing shells, very indiscriminately killing people," he added.
 
Some Syrian Christians say the regime is causing the worst of the attacks to force the Christians to choose sides decisively for the regime. Some even blame the regime for the terrorists being in Syria in the first place.
 
"I think that the regime is very accomplished in promoting sectarianism," said Osama Edward, 35, a Syrian Christian who runs the Assyrian Network for Human Rights and is currently based in Stockholm. "The incident at Maaloula proves that beyond a reasonable doubt."
 
Landis says the conflict has exacerbated Christian fears they are being driven out of the Middle East. Christians in Cairo and the West Bank, whose faith predates Islam by centuries, have been leaving their ancient enclaves because of threats and attacks.
 
"It doesn't take much," Landis said. "Christians were driven out of Anatolia before the first world war. They've been driven out of Iraq. They've been driven out of Palestine/Israel. The Copts have been getting the bad end of the stick in Egypt. The Syrian regime has been taken advantage of Christians feeling their days are numbered."
 
Christians are still hoping they can avoid taking sides or taking up arms.
 
"We don't care who is the ruler of this country," said Amar Kassar, a Catholic priest from Qatana, a town west of the capital.
 
Kassar was severely injured by a mortar in his Damascus neighborhood last month.
 
"We are against the formation of an Islamic state. We want a Syrian secular state for all Syrians," he said.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Pope seeks less focus on abortion, gays, contraception

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Read Time:3 Minute, 36 Second
In his first lengthy papal interview, Pope Francis says bluntly that the church has been too focused on the issues of abortion, gay marriage and contraception and suggests it find a "new balance" to deliver its message.
 
But he said there should be no retreat from the church's stand on the issues because he agreed with Church doctrine and considered the matter closed.
 
The interview was conducted last month over three meetings by the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal.
 
It was carried out in Italian on behalf of La Civiltà Cattolica, America and other major Jesuit journals. America arranged for the translation into English.
 
In a preface to the interview, Spadaro said talking with Pope Francis "is a kind of volcanic flow of ideas that are bound up with each other."
 
"Even taking notes gives me an uncomfortable feeling, as if I were trying to suppress a surging spring of dialogue," Spadaro writes.
 
The pope touches on a wide range of issues, from life as a Jesuit to his favorite films. He does not suggest any changes in church doctrine, but is very pointed in remarks on how the church should conduct its teaching.
 
"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods," Pope Francis said. "This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
 
"The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent," he said. "The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."
 
He said the church should delivery its message in a "missionary style."
 
"We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel," the pope says. "The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."
 
On other points:
 
• The role of the church: "The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle."
 
• Homosexuality: "A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: 'Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?' We must always consider the person."
 
• Women in the church: "The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church."
 
• Prayer: In the evening then, between 7 and 8 o'clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day.
 
• Film: "La Strada, by Fellini, is the movie that perhaps I loved the most. I identify with this movie, in which there is an implicit reference to St. Francis. I also believe that I watched all of the Italian movies with Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi when I was between 10 and 12 years old.
 
• On preferring less austere trappings: "I was always looking for a community. I did not see myself as a priest on my own. I need a community."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Christian hopes to reform churches on homosexuality

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Read Time:3 Minute, 21 Second
PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man whose online lecture about the Bible and same-sex relationships gained considerable attention has gathered about 50 Christians from around the country to delve into his belief that the Scriptures do not condemn homosexuality as a sexual orientation.
 
Matthew Vines, of Wichita, grew up attending a conservative evangelical Presbyterian church in the city and relies heavily on intensive study of the Bible for his presentations. He said liberal and moderate Christian churches have adopted more gay-friendly stances, but conservative churches remain steadfast in their opposition to homosexuality.
 
The 23-year-old Vines wants to bring change with his message that the Bible doesn't actually say same-sex orientation is a sin or condemn loving gay relationships. Out of 100 applicants, Vines selected 50 people with ties to conservative churches to participate in his three-day conference, which started Wednesday in Prairie Village and ends Saturday.
 
"This conference is important because it really represents the next frontier of the LGBT movement, which is working to change the minds of conservative Christians about same-sex relationships," Vines said. "Because I'm a gay Christian who grew up in a conservative church and still have a lot of friends and family in conservative churches, I'm trying to empower people to be able to stay in their churches that are not yet supportive."
 
Vines delivered an hourlong lecture on the topic at a Wichita church and posted it to YouTube in March 2012. Since then, the video has garnered more than 600,000 views and 15,000 responses. And it has been translated into several languages.
 
"A lot of conservative Christians are willing to listen, but they don't want to do it with someone who isn't educated about Scripture," said Vines, who has started a new organization, The Reformation Project, and written a book on the topic that will be published in March.
 
Evan Lenow, assistant professor of ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote an extensive rebuttal on his blog about Vines' online lecture and said Wednesday in a phone interview that Vines' take on the Bible is not a faithful reading of the text.
 
"It seems to me he is attempting to read Scripture through his presupposition that homosexuality is not a sin," Lenow said. "… Every time (Scripture) speaks of homosexuality it speaks of homosexuality in terms of sin."
 
Jane Clementi, whose son, Tyler, killed himself in 2010 after his roommate at Rutgers University made a webcast of him kissing another man, is among the conference participants. She's giving a keynote address Friday evening.
 
Her family has started a foundation to increase acceptance of gays in communities and their schools and churches.
 
She said before Tyler died, the family attended a conservative Christian church that "was not affirming." She is no longer a member of that church, though she has friends who still go there and were supportive after Tyler's death.
 
"But there is a discord, and I felt I couldn't stay," said Clementi, who lives in Ridgewood, N.J. "Even though there wasn't great amounts of time spent on preaching, the message was completely understood. … Even within Christian communities if they're preaching this, straight kids are hearing the message, too, that this group is worthless and broken and we have power over them. And that's what a bullying situation is. …
 
"So that's one of the things we want to speak to to make sure that no other youth feels that, and also so no other straight youth feels that they can do that. And no other parent should have to grieve the senseless loss. It's not a reason to lose a child."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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VIDEO: Bishop Oyedepo In Trouble Again As Winners’ Chapel Members Attack Officials

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Read Time:6 Minute, 21 Second

On September 8, 2012, Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, also known as Winners' Chapel, met Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State over the latest controversy that involved Oyedepo and his church. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo facilitated the meeting.

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Two days earlier, a team of officials of the Ogun State Ministry Of Urban and Physical Planning, who had gone to the church's headquarters in Ota to serve building inspection notices, as well as two journalists attached to Ogun State Television, were attacked by the members of the church.

According to Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, Ogun State Commisioner for Information and Strategy, the journalists were brutally beaten, their camera seized and damaged, the recordings deleted.

Mr. Olaniyonu also alleged that Oyedepo was present and witnessed the assault, "visibly angry" at the decision of the officials to attempt to carry out their duties in his church premises.

Two officials of the ministry were also affected in  the fight.

The victims were taken to the General Hospital in Ota, where they received medical treatment and were later discharged.

The authorities of the Living Faith Church Worldwide church have reportedly ignored the government-set meetings of the Stakeholders Forum where organisations discuss issues like physical planning and taxation regulations with the government.

Mr. Stephen Adewolu, who is the General Manager, Ogun State Urban and Physical Planning Board, and who led the team of officials, accused the church of violating laws and regulations. No organisation is above the law, he stressed, adding that there are proofs of structures being built indiscriminately without approval and necessary environmental impact assessment reports.

A day before this asssault, Oyedepo's followers attacked a number of officials of the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service (OGIRS). The team visited the church premises to effect the payment of outstanding taxes. Over a seven-year period, the Kingdom Heritage Nursery School, owned by Oyedepo's church and located within its headquarters, owed below two million naira.

According to the officials, they have sent several notices to the authorities of the church: in 2010, 2011 and in May, 2013. OGIRS Chairman, Mr. Jide Odubanjo, says his men were making some explanations when several staff members, including the church's legal officer and accountant, came out and, in the course of discussion, beat the officials "blue black," and destroyed their equipment.

A video recording, made with a mobile phone by one of the government's officials, was demonstrated at the press conference held a day after the assault, showing the attack on OGIRS officials and the detention of journalists for three hours by staff members of the school. The detained journalists were released following the intervention of the Divisional Police Officer of Onipanu in Ota Division.

Muyiwa Adejobi, Public Relations Officer of the Ogun State Police Command, stated the matter will be investigated, while Ogun State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu, said her ministry was studying the facts on the two incidents to impose an appropriate legal response.

Governor Amosun, before meeting Oyedepo, has reportedly seen some key officials of his government, including heads of law enforcement agencies, and took a decision to seal off the premises of the church. The decision was, however, made known to the church, and Oyedepo subsequently sought Obasanjo's assistance to reach the Governor.

According to the sources, Amosun did not conceal his disapproval of the conduct of Oyedepo's followers at the meeting. Oyedepo reportedly pleaded for leniency, but the Governor ordered to pick the hospital bills of the victims and replace all the damaged equipment. Moreover, the governor also insisted that law must take its course in the matter.

Five of the attackers are said to have been arrested by the police, and may be slammed with charges.

An insider of the church revelaled that pastor Oyedepo agreed to pay the medical bills of the victims and for the damaged equipment. The source, however, denied the claim that Oyedepo was present during the beating.

Another anonymous source suggests church officials attacked OGIRS officials believing that the church has been sensitive to the needs of its host community and is, thus, entitled to a tax-exempt status. Only OGIRS officials were unimpressed by these assumptions.

Notoriety overseas

The British authorities have also expressed interest in Oyedepo, as his church in Britain has received, in five years since 2008, an estimated £16 million in tithes from its followers.

A sum of £1 million that has been granted to the church's operation in Nigeria has provoked an interest from the Charity Commission of England and Wales. Last month, according to The Guardian, the Charity Commission was investigating allegations that charitable funds of Oyedepo's church have been misapplied.

'Exposed,' a global anti-corruption campaign aimed at churches, business and government, praises the generous spirit of congregations such as Oyedepo's church, but calls on church leaders to be more transparent. They challenge any movement, including Winners, to be open and account for its money wherever it goes because "it comes originally from hard-working, faithful people."

Last November, Paul Flynn, a member of the British Paliarment, has stated that the Winners' Chapel was cynically exploiting its members by making "clearly spurious claims."

Previous controversies

It would be recalled that two years ago, Oyedepo was filmed slapping a young girl, who claimed to be a witch during a church service. Oyedepo's followers replied to the criticisms by citing the Biblical account of Matthew 21:12, which records Jesus throwing out traders from the temple. However, there is no no evidence of Jesus being violent in the verse. In May 2012, Oyedepo was sued over the alleged assault. The case was struck out, a decision that has since been appealed.

In 2010, his alleged ill-treatment of three pastors of his church was made public.

Akah Ikenna (Benin), Ifeakwachukwu Sunday (Asaba) and Dick Abiye (Port Harcourt) were involved in auto crashes that left them disabled. The pastors, who earned N45,000 monthly, were on official assignment for Winners' Chapel.

Sunday, ordained a pastor of the church in 2001, was serving at Umunede, Delta State, when the accident occured. One of his legs broke and he also suffered severe pelvic dislocations. At a hospital in Benin, Edo State, he underwent several surgeries. He says his church abandoned him and terminated his appointment. Desperate, Sunday pleaded with Oyedepo personally, wrote to him several times asking to pay for his operations… But to no avail: he never got a response.

Sunday and Abiye, his colleague, gave up. But Ikenna, the third pastor, hired Lagos-based lawyer, Festus Keyamo and went to court. They won the case at the Ota High Court. But Oyedepo and his church headed to the Appeal Court, where the case has remained since 2009.

The church denied that the pastors were abandoned, saying they were "treated on moral ground and in demonstration of good Christian character." Also, it was stated, the Winners' Chapel has the right to review its workers' performances and release from service any staff it feels his or her services are no longer needed.

In November, 2011, Oyedepo publicly commented on the issue. "I almost cursed them [the three pastors]. If there is any case that is serious to take to the court, you go to the court and lawyers will take charge," he said.

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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On catholic priesthood and celibacy

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1. Let it be known that the Church is presently not considering anything as regards the removal of the law of celibacy from the Catholic priesthood. The present noise surrounding that is the wishful thinking of some people and a deliberate misrepresentation of the words of the incoming Secretary of the Vatican State.

2. Priestly celibacy has been objected to for many reasons both insofar as it is an ideal for the priest to live by and as it is a law imposed by the Church. Those who argue against the celibacy as law do so in the name of the gospel: Jesus called married men for the sake of the gospel, promulgated no precepts, posited no necessary connection between priesthood and celibacy. It has been criticized for practical reasons as well as ecumenical reasons. It has also been criticized as a denial of freedom.
I do not wish to bore you with a detailed discussion of these criticism but would just like to say that the law of celibacy in the Catholic priesthood does not take away freedom. Anyone who commits himself to the priestly ministry in the Catholic Church does so by an act of freedom. One of the questions directed to the candidate(s) at ordination clearly indicates this fact.

3. What most people have not really put into consideration is the way in which Jesus Christ willed that his priests should live. This is the basic issue in the whole debate: the will of Christ as manifested in the gospel. Thus, the link between priesthood and celibacy was established first in Christ himself. The indisputable fact of the celibacy of Christ shows that, in its most perfect realization, the priesthood entails the renunciation of marriage. Celibacy pertains to the mystery of the Incarnation. If we consider God's dispensation, we discover that the mission of Christ makes celibacy appropriate. The incarnate Word came to bring God close to mankind and to reveal God's love for all men. Had he chosen to marry, he would have ushered into his life a particular love which would have concealed and hampered his universal love. His predilection for one woman would have put a distance between him and other women. Because he had no children of his own, he was able to love all the little children with a heart totally open, without preference. Thanks to celibacy, Jesus was able to enjoy the greatest closeness to every man, woman, and child. He was in a position to be the man for all.

Courtesy: Alfred Okakpu Chukwuemeka (Fr.)

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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