Important Sites of Religious Pilgrimage

A BBC travel article in 2012 named 10 must-see pilgrimage locations around the world. You might have heard of the pilgrimages before, or simply learnt the famous religious story in class and can now discover how a village or town in 2018 can allow a religious person to feel closer to their faith by visiting a place written about in their holy books.

Lumbini
Location: Rupandehi, Nepal
Religion: Buddhism
Significance: birthplace of the Lord Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Buddhism has interesting ideas which we can reflect on when thinking about whether we are at fault for our suffering and if we should take care in our actions so not to harm others or ourselves.

Lumbini

Vatican City
Location: surrounded by Rome, Italy
Religion: Catholicism
Significance: home of the Pope and centre of the Roman Catholic Church. Currently Pope Francis is the man at the Vatican! He often brings to the world’s attention things we learn about at school, such as Christians being persecuted and the need for Christians to pray for them; how Christians should show mercy and compassion to refugees like the Rohingya Muslims; and that if you are fasting during Lent you should still be kind to others to be a truly just Christian.

vatican-tourists

Wittenberg
Location: Saxony, Germany
Religion: Protestantism
Significance: birthplace of the Protestant Reformation. It was here in Wittenberg that the monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of  Castle Church in 1517. Unfortunately during the Seven Years’ War, much of Wittenberg was destroyed, but Castle Church was rebuilt in the 1800s and the text of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses was inscribed into the church’s front doors. Inside the church you will also find Luther’s tomb. There are some great Martin Luther raps; film clips; animations; and mini documentaries you can watch or sing along to to help you remember the facts!

germany-2011-5351

 

Western Wall
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Religion: Judaism
Significance: the holiest of Jewish sites. The Western Wall made headlines in May 2017 when the US President Donald Trump visited it and prayed there, and female journalist were kept in a penned off area behind male colleagues. It is a place where awe and wonder fills Jewish pilgrims minds and hearts.

Orthodox Jewish men praying in the  men's section, Western Wall (Wailing Wall), Old City, Jerusalem, Israel.

Pope Francis seems less of a peacemaker as he doesn’t mention persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar/ Burma

Today Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic church, urged respect for “each ethnicity and its identity”, adding “religious differences need not be a source of division”. This was said when on a visit to Myanmar/ Burma, when lots of people were hoping he would mention the Rohingya by name, and state the fact they’d been persecuted.

persecution

Yet Pope Francis failed and did not mention the Rohingya by name. The reason was that there were fears by the Catholic community in Myanmar/ Burma that if he criticised the government and military there would be repercussions against the small Catholic community in the country. So even the Catholic church has many strengths, including in its humanitarian work, where there are many good men and women working tirelessly to improve the living conditions of people who live in challenged situations, it has weaknesses too.  The facts is that its leader, while he might look like a world peacemaker, should first and foremost look out for his own people. I’m not sure how much Pope Francis is living by the guidance Jesus gave in his Sermon on the Mount

Matthew Persecution

Why wear a black headscarf to visit the Pope but not a hijab when visiting Saudi royalty?

At first glance it seems odd that Melania Trump (a Christian) and Ivanka Trump (converted to Judaism) would both wear black and also have black lace headscarves to visit the Catholic Pope in the Vatican Rome, but would a few days previously not wear any headscarves in Muslim Saudi Arabia. It might appear that they are going out of their way to be incredibly respectful to the religious beliefs of Catholicism and less so to Islam.

wearing black

But first appearances are not always completely what they seem. Female foreign dignitaries such as politicians or royalty are not required to cover their heads when they visit the Saudi Arabia- only Saudi nationals are. Meanwhile the Vatican (where the Pope lives) did speak of a dress protocol to Mrs Trump’s office at the White House, but no such requests had been made by Saudi Arabia. The Vatican website lays out some of the rules: modest dress, with your shoulders covered, for those attending a Papal Audience – especially if indoors. In fact women visiting sometimes wear deep lace mantillas to just a black veil. When the Queen went to see the Pope when as a young woman, she dressed up like the Spanish infanta, even though she is a Protestant Head of State.

Apparently Melania Trump, President Trump of the USA’s wife, asked the Pope to bless her rosary beads.

How_to_Pray_the_Rosary  praying-beads

 

Better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic

Hypocritical – behaving in a way that suggests one has higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case.

The Pope who is the leader of the Catholic Church has today criticised Catholics who show off about attending Mass each week and being members of different Christian organisations but don’t “pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, [I lead] a double life’.”

This is not the first time the Pope has told Catholics to walk the walk as well as talk the talk of being a good Christian!

Does the new US President believe in Climate Change?

Evidence 1: U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website.

Evidence 2: Trump’s nominee for for Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt accepted more than $250,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry over the course of four campaigns for attorney general, lieutenant governor and state senator. In a joint op-ed in the National Review, Pruitt wrote that the debate on climate change is “far from settled”, adding: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”

Evidence 3: In 2012 Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax cooked up by the Chinese

Evidence 4: In May 2016 Trump said he would “cancel” the Paris climate change agreement, though in November 2016 he said he now had an “open mind” about the accord.

Evidence 5: President Trump has signed executive orders to allow two controversial oil pipelines to be built in the US which tie the country to years more dependence on fossil fuels and all the environmental damage the construction of the pipelines will bring.

Below is a diagram showing the link between greenhouse gases and climate change:

greenhouse-effect-09-2014

The best short video I’ve seen on the changes in the earth’s atmosphere is from a retro BBC Bitesize Science video lasting about 12 minutes.

Trump’s disinterest in the frightening consequences of global warming is in stark contrast to Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic church, who has called for urgent action to stop climate change.  Francis described man’s destruction of the environment as a sin and accused mankind of turning the planet into a “polluted wasteland full of debris, desolation and filth”. “Global warming continues,” the pope said. “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events. Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact. ”

drought-and-death-climate-change pope-francis

“No point going to Church” if you don’t really believe in it, says the Pope

Pope Francis has said that there is no point going to Church if you don’t really believe in it and don’t do kind deeds.

“If I say I am Catholic and go to mass, but then don’t speak with my parents, help my grandparents or the poor, go and see those who are sick, this does not prove my faith, there’s no point,” he told young residents of Guidonia, a village near Rome. He is basically backing up the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats which we learn in Year 8 and also for the new AQA GCSE. The Pope (leader of the Catholic church) continued: “Christian faith is expressed with three things: words, the heart, and the hands.”

sheep

The Pope also discussed how difficult it might be to truly forgive and forget saying that it could be difficult to forgive people when they have hurt you, or even, in some cases, committed crimes against you. “It’s difficult, I knew an old woman who was strong, bright, whose husband used to hit her. You should always forgive but sometimes to forget is difficult,” he said, according to La Stampa.

Pope says God is not a magician with a magic wand

The Pope (leader of the Catholic Church) has said that scientific theories such as Big Bang Theory and Evolution are not incompatible with God but in fact they require God. “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said.“The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

big-bang_infographic

Giovanni Bignami, a professor, said: “The pope’s statement is significant. We are the direct descendents from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation.”

Evolutionary Tree original

Below is an attempt at allying Big Bang Theory and the story of creation from the Book of Genesis in the Bible:

bible-big-bang-compared