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The Trumpet Herald

Giving the trumpet a certain sound

January 2007

The Pope on Religious Freedom

In a recent statement, the Pope expressed his views on religious freedom:

Similarly, Benedict XVI adds, “the affirmation of the right to religious freedom places the human being in a relationship with a transcendent principle which withdraws him from human caprice.”

“The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man,” he specifies.

Addressing the present situation of the right to life, the Pope denounces “its widespread violation in our society: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentations on human embryos and euthanasia.” (“Benedict XVI Extols 2 Rights as Keys to Peace,” zenit.org, Dec. 12, 2006)

Inspired Commentary

The history of religious freedom in Roman Catholic practice through the middle ages is well known. A more-tolerant attitude toward “heretics” would be welcomed, however inspiration warns:

The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High. (The Great Controversy, p. 571)

Continuing Violence in Iraq

As daily news reports tell of continuing numbers of violent deaths in Iraq, there are ominous signs that the violence may substantially increase:

The gulf’s two military powers, Sunni-Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, are lining up behind their warring religious brethren in Iraq in a potentially explosive showdown, as expectations grow in both countries that America is preparing a pull-out of its troops.

The Saudis, America's closest allies in the Arab World, were reported — in an article last week by Nawaf Obaid, a senior government security adviser — to be considering providing anti-US Sunni military leaders with funding, logistical support and even arms — as Iran already does for Shia militia in Iraq.

Riyadh is alarmed that Sunnis in Iraq could be abandoned to their fate — military and political — at the hands of the Shia majority.

Indeed, President George W Bush dispatched his vice-president Dick Cheney to Saudi last weekend after the kingdom demanded high — level consultations about their concerns. (“Saudis and Iran prepare to do battle over corpse of Iraq.” Sunday Telegraph, Dec. 3, 2006)

Official sources in Saudi Arabia promptly denied the news reports:

Saudi Arabia today denied it was ready to launch a “massive” intervention to help Iraq’s minority Sunni Muslims against Iran-backed Shiite attacks if the US pulls out its troops.

“What the Washington Post attributed on Wednesday to columnist Nawaf Obaid is groundless ... The writer does not represent any official side in Saudi Arabia,” an official source told SPA news agency. (“Saudi Arabia denies Iraq intervention,” www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph (Daily Telegraph), Dec. 3, 2006).

Inspired Commentary

A familiar Bible passage suggests that the sorrows of human suffering could yet get worse:

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matt. 24:6-8

Cows and Environmental Damage

A recent study released by the United Nations has identified herds of cattle as significant factors in environmental damage:

Meet the world's top destroyer of the environment. It is not the car, or the plane,or even George Bush: it is the cow.

A United Nations report has identified the world’s rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs.

The 400-page report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation [released Nov. 29, 2006], entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow, also surveys the damage done by sheep, chickens, pigs and goats. But in almost every case, the world's 1.5 billion cattle are most to blame. Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

Burning fuel to produce fertiliser to grow feed, to produce meat and to transport it - and clearing vegetation for grazing - produces 9 per cent of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. And their wind and manure emit more than one third of emissions of another, methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide. (“Cow ‘emissions’ more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars,” news.independent.co.uk (The Independent), Dec. 10, 2006)

Inspired Commentary

It is generally known that people don’t need to eat cows (or other animals) to maintain good health. Maybe it’s time for more education to attempt to reduce demand.

Will men and women be warned? Will they cherish the light, or will they become slaves to appetite and base passions? Christ presents to us something higher to toil for than merely what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed. Eating, drinking, and dressing are carried to such excess that they become crimes, and are among the marked sins of the last days, and constitute a sign of Christ’s soon coming. Time, money, and strength, which are the Lord’s, but which He has entrusted to us, are wasted in needless superfluities of dress, and luxuries for the perverted appetite, which lessen vitality and bring suffering and decay. It is impossible to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, when they are filled with corruption and disease by our own sinful indulgence. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 61)

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