Pope: I'd baptise Martians if they arrived and asked for it. Catholic leader says 'green men' would be allowed into church

  • Francis told audience at mass that he would baptise 'green men with a long nose and big ears' if they wanted it 
  • Comment came as Pope insisted that everyone deserves to be baptised 
  • Vatican astronomer previously said that aliens have souls 'no matter how many tentacles'

By HUGO GYE


Pope Francis would be willing to baptise Martians if they came to Earth and asked to become Catholics, he said yesterday.

During his daily mass, the leader of the Roman Catholic church said that no one should be denied entry into the church for any reason.

He joked that even if space aliens were 'green men, with a long nose and big ears, like children draw', they deserved to be baptised if they wanted.

'If tomorrow, for example, an expedition of Martians arrives and some of them come to us... and if one of them says, "Me, I want to be baptised!", what would happen?', Francis said, according to AFP.

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Anti-Muslim prejudice – inflamed by Islamists

By Paul Goodman

Much of the fear of Islam is simply prejudice against immigrants.  Dislike of Muslims is in this respect no different from dislike of any other migrant group, be it Jews at the turn of the last century, Poles at the turn of this one, Romanians and Bulgarians now, and lots of other peoples in between.  Racial prejudice is always a despicable trait, especially when it hardens into hatred (though it is not to be confused with opposition to mass immigration, a view that is held by all ethnic groups).  It has inflamed some of the reporting and corrupted some of the coverage of the halal meat controversy.

But there is more to anxiety about Islam among many non-Muslims, in Britain and elsewhere, than aversion to Muslims or objections to immigration.  There is a belief that there is a problem inherent in the religion which Christianity and Judaism, its fellow Abrahamic faiths, don’t share, and which isn’t present in other religions either.  Is it right?  The best answer is that it depends which problem one has in mind.  All religions, Judaism and Christianity including, produce fanatical mutations and terror.  Consider Europe’s own wars of religion.

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From jail to jihad? The threat of prison radicalisation

By Raphael Rowe

Mikaeel Ibrahim (centre) was met at Manchester Prison by Mizanur Rahman (left) and Abdul Muhid (right)

The head of the prison and probation service says there is a small but "significant risk" of Muslim prisoners becoming radicalised. Panorama spoke to one convict who was met by Islamic extremists when he was released from prison.

Michael Coe went into prison as a gangster and left as Mikaeel Ibrahim, a convert to Islam.

In 2006 he had been jailed for eight years after threatening police officers with a shotgun while on parole for a knifepoint carjacking.

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Pope Francis's dance with the devil

For all his modernising, the Catholic church's leader has enlisted a very old enemy in his battle against secularism

 'The devil continues to be as useful for the modern church as he has been in the past, when he bolstered the case for the burning of heretics.' Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

As Mother Teresa lay in a Calcutta hospital the year before she died, her violently disturbed sleep became intolerable, her doctors seemingly unable to help. The problem, the visiting Archbishop of Calcutta suggested, was not a medical matter but something altogether more sinister: this living saint was being attacked by the devil. It was only after an exorcist was called that peace was restored.

That a woman regarded as so holy could have been subject to diabolical visitations was reported with surprise. Yet, if a course for Catholic clergy that took place in Rome last week is anything to go by, exorcism is far from rare. The programme trains about 200 priests a year in the ancient rite. For outsiders, exorcism appears anachronistic, a throwback to the superstitions of the middle ages. What the scale of last week's course shows, however, is that the devil is alive and kicking in Pope Francis's apparently modernising church.

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Halal meat controversy is about unnecessary cruelty to animals and NOT Islamaphobia

Sunday Mirror columnist Carole Malone says that barbarism must not be allowed to hide behind religion whatever the faith

Hidden halal: Pizza Express

There is absolutely no way I want to eat animals that have died slowly and in agony in the name of religion.

Because I don’t respect ANY religion enough to have people or animals suffer for it.

Nor do I want to live in a society that donates millions to save dehydrated donkeys in Africa yet thinks it’s OK to slit the throats of terrified creatures here.

And I didn’t think I did. Until this week when it was revealed that Pizza Express, along with scores of restaurants and most of our ­supermarkets, is selling halal meat, too much of which comes from animals that have their throats cut while fully conscious and are then left to die.

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Church divided over 'a secular Scotland'

A Yes vote for independence will lead to Scotland becoming a secular state, a leading Presybterian minister has warned.

However, the views of the former Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland Rev Dr John Ross have been challenged by fellow clergy.

His is one of four papers released by the Free Church on Christianity in post-referendum Scotland, which are due to be considered in its General Assembly in Edinburgh later this month.

The Free Church has said it will not be telling its members how to vote.

But Mr Ross, the Glenurquhart and Fort Augustus minister says in his paper: "The Nationalist White Paper states that in an independent Scotland no change will be made 'to the legal status of any religion or of Scotland's churches'. This is dishonest. The Yes campaign is not just asking us to vote for an independent Scotland but for a secular Scotland. The aim of the SNP is a secular constitution rigorously pluralist that gives every religious tradition equal status. He says "in an independent Scotland, as a matter of public policy, and for the first time since the Reformation, Christianity will be deprived of its status as the national religion."

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Christians 'cannot vote for Scottish independence in good conscience'

Christians cannot vote for an independent Scotland in good conscience because it would lead to a secular state, a former Free Church of Scotland Moderator has warned.

 

In a paper to the Free Church General Assembly about the forthcoming referendum, Rev John Ross said a successful ‘Yes’ vote would result in Christianity “being deprived of state recognition as Scotland’s national religion” for the first time since the Reformation.

Rev Ross said the Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence was “dishonest” in claiming that separation would result in no change to the legal status of any religion or of the country’s churches.

His intervention came as the Scottish Secular Society announced its support for separation, arguing that the British state gives unfair protection to “certain forms of Christianity”.

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Female genital mutilation parties being held in UK, MPs told

Health professionals tell committee that 'cutters' are flown into Britain for events at which up to a dozen girls may be mutilated

 Fahma Mohamed (C) and fellow anti-FGM campaigners deliver a petition to parliament. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian

The cutting of girls at female genital mutilation "parties" is still going on in Britain and not just taking place abroad, healthcare experts have told MPs.

The Commons home affairs select committee has heard that "cutters" – often older women – are flown into Britain for the events, at which as many as a dozen girls may be operated on.

Janet Fyle, of the Royal College of Midwives, said that by the time the authorities could be alerted, the cutter would have left. "By the time the girls are cut, the woman 'cutter' is on her flight back to the country she came from. We can't go after the cutter. We don't know who she or he is. The parents have to be held responsible," she said.

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Vatican admits to handling 3,400 cases of child abuse by priests since 2004

The Vatican revealed for the first time the extent of the child abuse issues that have plagued the Catholic church over the last decade during an interrogation by the UN Committee against Torture (CAT).

The Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the committee that the Vatican had defrocked 848 priests who were believed to have raped or molested children, and sanctioned a further 2,572 priests for lesser offences since 2004.

According to the AP, Tomasi also admitted that the Vatican only explicitly ordered bishops to report credible accusations of child abuse to the police as well as forward the cases to Rome for review, after finding that bishops would shuffle ‘problem’ priests between dioceses rather than imposing a church trial. However, he said that now there was a total commitment by the Vatican to clean house and prevent future abuse.

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Pizza Express reveal ALL the chicken they use is halal - but they don't tell customers unless they ask staff

  • All chicken used in chain's food is prepared according to Islamic traditions
  • No mention of issue on menu and only appears in small print on website
  • Critics have accused the 434-restaurant chain of 'duping' its customers
  • Or is move because 'non-Islamic customers are less likely to complain'?
  • Firm insists birds are stunned before slaughter and food meets standards

Pizza Express is serving halal chicken to its unwitting customers on the quiet, with staff only telling customers about the meat if asked.

Only meat from birds that have had their throats slit while still alive, in accordance with Islamic traditions, is used in dishes.

The menu makes no mention of the issue and customers can find out only by checking the small print on the Pizza Express website – or by asking staff explicitly.

The firm, which has 434 restaurants across the UK, states on its website: ‘All our chicken is halal approved but it is important to note that all birds are stunned before being slaughtered. 

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At UN, Vatican sex abuse compared with torture

GENEVA (AP) - A U.N. committee compared the Vatican's handling of the global priest sex abuse scandal with torture Monday, raising the possibility that its failure to investigate clergy and their superiors could have broader legal implications.

But the Vatican's top envoy in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, claimed that the Holy See was getting its house in order after a decade-long effort to deal with a global priest sex abuse scandal.

"There has been, in several documentable areas, stabilization and even a decline of cases in pedophilia," he told a committee of experts in charge of the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the Vatican ratified in 2002.

At the Holy See's first appearance before the committee, experts mainly peppered the Vatican with tough questions to be answered Tuesday. For instance, they asked why the report on its implementation of the treaty was almost a decade late, and why the Vatican believes its responsibility for protecting against torture only applies within tiny Vatican City, a nation of less than 1,000 inhabitants.

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