Religion Today Summaries - April 4, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 4, 2005

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:

  • Pope John Paul II Dies In Vatican

  • President Bush's Statement on the Death of Pope John Paul II

  • Billy Graham says Pope John Paul II was “The Most Influential Voice for Morality and Peace in the World During the Last 100 Years”

  • Eritrea Jails Another 11 Protestant Christians 

Pope John Paul II Dies In Vatican
Michael Ireland, Assist News Service

Pope John Paul II, one of the longest serving pontiffs in history, has died at the age of 84. He died on Saturday evening, April 2, following a series of worsening health problems including heart failure, news agencies including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Reuters report. The BBC said Pope John Paul II died after suffering from heart and kidney problems and unstable blood pressure. His condition deteriorated suddenly on Thursday night with a high fever caused by an infection of the urinary tract. The infection brought on "septic shock and a cardio-circulatory collapse," the Vatican said in a statement. The Pope then received the Saint Viaticum, a Catholic rite for the sick and dying. The Vatican had announced on Friday that though he was gravely ill he had been conscious, lucid and serene, the BBC said. The pontiff had been suffering from breathing troubles, exacerbated by the progress of Parkinson's Disease, an incurable condition from which he had been suffering for nearly a decade.

President Bush's Statement on the Death of Pope John Paul II
President George W. Bush,

"Laura and I join people across the Earth in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home. Pope John Paul II left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it -- as a witness to the dignity of human life. In his native Poland, that witness launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history. Throughout the West, John Paul's witness reminded us of our obligation to build a culture of life in which the strong protect the weak. And during the Pope's final years, his witness was made even more powerful by his daily courage in the face of illness and great suffering. All Popes belong to the world, but Americans had special reason to love the man from Krakow. In his visits to our country, the Pope spoke of our "providential" Constitution, the self-evident truths about human dignity in our Declaration, and the "blessings of liberty" that follow from them. It is these truths, he said, that have led people all over the world to look to America with hope and respect. Pope John Paul II was, himself, an inspiration to millions of Americans, and to so many more throughout the world. We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages."

Billy Graham says Pope John Paul II was “The Most Influential Voice for Morality and Peace in the World During the Last 100 Years”
Dan Wooding, Assist News Service

The Pope, whose 26-year reign as the charismatic leader of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics ended on Saturday when he died in Rome at the age of 84. In a statement sent to ANS, Mr. Graham went on to say, “His extraordinary gifts, his strong Catholic faith, and his experience of human tyranny and suffering in his native Poland all shaped him, and yet he was respected by men and women from every conceivable background across the world. He was truly one of those rare individuals whose legacy will endure long after he has gone.” “In his own way, he saw himself as an evangelist, traveling far more than any other Pope to rally the faithful and call non-believers to commitment. He was convinced that the complex problems of our world are ultimately moral and spiritual in nature, and only Christ can set us free from the shackles of sin and greed and violence. His courage and perseverance in the face of advancing age and illness were an inspiration to millions – including me.” “May his death remind each of us that some day we too must die and enter into God’s presence – and may we each commit ourselves afresh to Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation.”

Eritrea Jails Another 11 Protestant Christians 
Compass Direct

Another spate of raids against evangelical Christians in Eritrea has been confirmed. On March 22, authorities from the National Security Office closed down the Semhare Graphics Printing Press, a private company in Asmara that publishes Christian literature. Demoze Afwerki, vice manager of the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea and an active member of the Full Gospel Church, was arrested on March 18 and jailed at Wongel Mermera, where other evangelicals -- including Full Gospel Church Pastor Kidane Weldou -- are believed to be incarcerated. Both Weldou and Afwerki sit on the executive committee of Gideons International in Eritrea. Finally, police raided a private home in Assab on March 9 and arrested 10 members of the Kale Hiwot (Word of Life) Church while they worshipped together. The 10 remain jailed at the Assab police station with no official charges filed against them.