Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

The two faces of Angela Merkel

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  The German chancellor was described by Forbes last month as the world’s most powerful woman, listing her as 15th overall in its ranking of the World’s Most Powerful people.  Certainly, Merkel has been known to bare her teeth when it comes to castigating others like Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe and she even rebuked Russia’s Vladimir Putin on foreign trips. She did also raise her voice against Pope Benedict, calling on him to make clear the Vatican does not tolerate any denial of the Holocaust.   

 

But at home in Germany, Merkel has been surprisingly timid on many key issues – especially when they involve her conservative Christian Democrats. Her tendency to avoid clear positions has driven her coalition partners mad. Merkel might be a lion when she’s on foreign stages but she tends to be a lamb at home. One of her favourite sayings is: “If you try to beat your head into a wall, the wall will usually win.”

 

Merkel’s latest evasive action centres on another woman in her party, Erika Steinbach. Ostensibly, it’s a relatively minor issue about a seat on the board of a new museum about the plight of German World War Two refugees. But in reality it is an issue that reverberates deeply in Merkel’s conservative party as well as across Germany’s eastern border in Poland. 

 

The League of Expellees, a powerful force in Merkel’s party, wants their leader Steinbach, who is a conservative member of parliament, on the museum’s board. Merkel’s past and present coalition partners have vetoed Steinbach (pictured above with Merkel) because of Poland’s objections to the woman with controversial views in the past on the German-Poland border and Poland’s membership in the European Union.    

from FaithWorld:

Will Queen Elizabeth give the pope a warm welcome next year?

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queenOne can guess what Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will say to Pope Benedict when the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion travels to the Vatican later this year. The more interesting question might be what  Queen Elizabeth is likely to say when she hosts the pope next year. (Photo: Queen Elizabeth, 13 June 2009/Luke MacGregor)

The timing of the trips couldn't be more intriguing, especially the second one. The pope is due to visit Britain in September 2010 and is expected to preside there over the beatification of the late Cardinal John Henry Newman, a famous 19th-century convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism.

from FaithWorld:

Vatican synod urges corrupt African leaders to quit

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african-synod (Photo: Pope Benedict XVI with African bishops in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, 4  Oct 2009/Alessandro Bianchi)

Roman Catholic bishops called on corrupt Catholic leaders in Africa on Friday to repent or resign for giving the continent and the Church a bad name. Around 200 African bishops, along with dozens of other bishops and Africa experts, also accused multinational companies in Africa of "crimes against humanity" and urged Africans to beware of "surreptitious" attempts by international organizations to destroy traditional African values.

Their three-week synod, which ends formally on Sunday with a Mass by Pope Benedict, covered a range of Africa's problems, such as AIDS, corruption, poverty, development aspirations and crime. But it had a very direct message for corrupt African leaders who were raised Catholics.

from FaithWorld:

Pope urges bold world economic reform before G8 summit

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popePope Benedict issued an ambitious call to reform the way the world works on Tuesday shortly before its most powerful leaders meet at the G8 summit in Italy. His latest encyclical, entitled "Charity in Truth," presents a long list of steps he thinks are needed to overcome the financial crisis and shift economic activity from the profit motive to a goal of solidarity of all people.

Following are some of his proposals. The italics are from the original text. Do you think they are realistic food for thought or idealistic notions with no hope of being put into practice?

from FaithWorld:

Germans fall out of love with their pope

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When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the head of the Roman Catholicism in 2005, the best-selling daily Bild caught the national mood with a frontpage headline crowing Wir sind Papst! (We're Pope!). Now, Germans are falling out of love with their pope for readmitting to the Church an excommunicated bishop who denies the Holocaust. For the vast majority of Germans, denying the Holocaust is beyond the pale. Shunning anyone who does deny the Holocaust is considered a civic virtue. So seeing the world's most prominent German rehabilitate a Holocaust denier is quite distressing for a upstanding, post-war German democrat. How could he do it? (Photo: Pope Benedict at the Vatican, 2 Feb 2009/Alessandro Bianchi)

The Vatican and Catholic bishops around the world have been defending the pope, saying the lifting of the excommunications for the controversial Bishop Richard Williamson and three other bishops was an internal Church issue unrelated to his political views. They say repeatedly that this is not a rehabilitation, but simply a readmission to allow discussions on rehabilitation to start. After botching the initial announcement, the Vatican has had a tough time trying to convince public opinion in other countries. In Germany, where many understandably think Holocaust deniers deserve no sympathy whatsoever, this task is proving to be doubly difficult.

from FaithWorld:

Russian Othodox Church picks Kirill, better Vatican ties expected

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The Russian Orthodox Church elected Metropolitan Kirill, 62, as its new leader on Tuesday, succeeding Alexiy II who died last month. The new leader of the 165 million-strong Church, the largest in the Orthodox world,  is seen as a moderniser who may thaw long icy ties with the Roman Catholic Church.

There was speculation before the vote that nationalists, anti-westerners and anti-Catholic forces among the clergy and monks might rally to block Kirill's election. He seemed to take the possibility seriously enough to strike a conservative tone in recent days. In his address before the vote, Kirill spoke of "the assault of aggressive Western secularism against Christianity" and of "attempts by some Protestant groups to revise the teachings of Christianity and evangelical morality". He also hit out at Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries, saying they sought converts in post-Soviet Russia -- a key point of discord with the Vatican.

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