How Islam took root in one of South America’s most violent cities

14 days ago

The Colombian port of Buenaventura is home to a small Muslim community who have successively embraced the Nation of Islam, Sunni and Shia interpretations

Blaring salsa music from a neighbouring bar does not perturb Sheik Munir Valencia as he bows in prayer at a family-home-turned-mosque in the poor, violence-racked Colombian city of Buenaventura.

His prayers finished, Valencia sheds his brown tunic, sits down at a plastic table and describes his role as the spiritual leader of an Islamic community like few others.

The small community of Afro-Colombian Muslims in Colombias main Pacific port city have over the years espoused the teachings of the Nation of Islam, mainstream Sunni Islam, and the Shia denomination.

First attracted to the faith by the promises of black power, Buenaventuras Muslims say that they have found in Islam a refuge from the poverty and violence that racks the city, which has one of the highest slaying rates in Colombia.

Islam first arrived here in the late 1960 s thanks to Esteban Mustafa Melndez, an African American sailor of Panamanian origin, who spread the training courses of the Nation of Islam the US-based group that mixes elements of Islam with black patriotism among port workers.

He talked about the self-esteem of blacks, and that philosophy had a big impact. Those teaches reached the heads and hearts of a lot of people, says Valencia, adding that the message came during a period of profound social change.

Melndezs visits came at a time when many rural Colombians were migrating to cities, losing in the process the social connections of their extended households, said Diego Castellanos, a sociologist who has examined different religions in Colombia, an overwhelmingly Catholic country.

The Nation of Islam offered an alternative identity and it was a way to fight back against the situation of structural racial discrimination in the port, he said. 90 per cent of the population of Buenaventura is Afro-Colombian.

colombia map

That first wave of converts tended to be more political than spiritual: they said their prayers in English or Spanish, read more political pamphlets than the Quran, and had a shaky understanding of Islams central tenets, said Valencia.

The appeal of the Nation of Islam gradually waned as Melndezs trip-ups came less frequently and the message of black supremacy began to sound hollow to a community that while victim of severe structural discrimination based on their race never suffered the same racial hatred and segregation laws that had existed in the United States.

Following the example of Malcolm X who broke with the Nation of Islam and embraced Sunnism before his death in 1965 the states members of the Buenaventura community travelled to Saudi Arabia to study Islam and came back to convince the group to embrace a more orthodox religion.

Just like that we were Sunni, says Valencia, who was raised Catholic and planned to become a clergyman before turning to Islam. We learned to read Arabic, we read the Quran, we no longer looked toward the United States and started looking toward Saudi Arabia, he says.

Buenaventuras Muslim community turned to other Sunni groups in the country for support, but their two worlds could not have been more different.

The Muslims from Buenaventura, defined between vast expanses of jungle and the Pacific Ocean in Colombias south-west, were black, poor and relatively new to the beliefs and traditions of Islam. The established Colombian Sunni community was of Arab heritage, made up of prosperous traders and based predominantly in Maicao, a bustling commercial township set in the north-eastern desert on the border with Venezuela.

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A barge loaded with renders heads out to ocean in Buenaventura, Colombias largest Pacific port and home to a small Muslim community. Photo: Bloomberg/ Bloomberg via Getty Images

Aside from a few food donations from the Arab community, relations were distant.

The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran inhaled new life into the Buenaventura community. Shia missions contacted the group and offered scholarships and financing support. Valencia won a scholarship to study at the At-Tauhid mosque in Buenos Aires and then continued his surveys at the University of Qom in Iran.

As Valencia tells his narrative, his mobile phone lights up, his ringtone a chant in Arabic. He answers: Salaam alekum , then launches into a conversation in the rapid-fire Spanish of Colombias Pacific coast.

Today, portraits of Malcolm X and the Ayatollah Khamenei adorn the walls of a back room in the home that serves as community center and mosque for the approximately 300 current members of the community. A colourful mural covers another wall, depicting a leafy family tree titled Islamic genealogy of the oracles. On any given Friday, between 40 and 50 show up for prayers.

Valencia says his links with Iran have been the target of secret and not-so-secret investigations by both Colombian and US intelligence services. I have nothing to hide, he says.[ The Iranians] supporting us. But we are not jihadists.

Valencia also operates two private charter schools where 180 children of some of the most severe neighborhoods of the city not only learn their ABCs but their alif ba ta s as well. Housed on the ground floor of an ill-maintained three-storey building, the Silvia Zaynab school is set in one of Buenaventuras most violent neighbourhoods, where criminal gangs fight over territory control and residents often get caught in the crossfire.

The school offers a small haven from that reality. Students greet guests with anthems in Arabic about the greatness of Allah. In Spanish, they sing about the five prophets of creation: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. One second-grader rushes to the chalkboard to proudly write out a random three-digit number in Arabic.

Only five of the children who attend the schools are members of the Muslim community. We are not trying to convert anyone, says Valencia. Were only proving the children to respect different religions and other traditions.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness review- a narrative of disloyalty by the church

15 days ago

Graham Caveneys defiant, important memoir details how the Catholic establishment fails abuse victims

Pope Francis has taken great strides in challenging all sorts of entrenched attitudes and prejudices in the Vatican that have given the Catholic church such a bad name of late. Progression has been disappointingly slow, however, on the commission he appointed in 2014 to tackle the appalling scandal of clerical sexual abuse. In March of this year Marie Collins, the last remaining is part of the panel who was a survivor of abuse, resigned after a Vatican department failed to comply with the commissions recommendation that it respond to every correspondent who writes in with allegations that they have been a victim. If the curia is resisting such simple steps, how to have faith that they will tackle the bigger underlying issues?

Reluctance to face up to the consequences of clerical abuse remains hard-wired into the structures of the church: an instinct to protect the institution at the cost of the individual who has suffered, and a brick-wall resistance to addressing the profound questions about the nature of vocation posed by such abhorrent behaviour. And so church leaders not all, awarded; surely not Pope Francis tend to speak of historical allegations whenever victims find the gallantry to speak up 20, 30 or even 40 years after events that are not for them in any way historical, but are a psychological and emotional trauma they will live with until their succumbing day.

Individuals like Graham Caveney. The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness recounts with great courage and candour how, in the 1970 s, as the clever, awkward, nerdy, merely child of devoutly Catholic working-class parents in Accrington, Lancashire, he was groomed by a priest at his local grammar school in Blackburn, and then sexually abused by him.

A casual glance might indicate he has managed to set it behind him he has a successful career as a novelist on music( the voices of the 70 s are one thread of this well-structured, rounded memoir) and biographer of William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. But as he describes, without self-pity, Caveney fell out of university, struggled to kind adult relationships, turned to beverage and drugs to blot out the trauma, and on occasion attempted suicide.

The abuse leads you to fuck up their own lives, he reflects bleakly but unsparingly, and a fucked-up life means that youre a less believable witness to the abuse that fucked you up in the first place. Its an ironic trick of memory and survival: abuse induces you want to forget the abuse.

John and Kath, his mum and father, had no idea what was wrong. They watched their beloved boy, in whom they had expended so much hope that he would have more life opportunities than them, change first into a sulky, angry adolescent who refused to go to mass, and then into a messed-up wreck, beset by panic attacks.

They died in 1998 and 2002, still none the wiser. They continued to direct their flailing son back towards his old headteacher for wise advise, never suspecting that Father Kevin ONeill had sexually abused him as a 15 -year-old and set off the downward spiral.

The Caveneys had believed that the youthful, relaxed Rev Kev the Catholic equivalent of a trendy vicar was doing their boy a favor by taking him to theaters, cinemas and restaurants, broadening his intellect. What they couldnt know was that on the way home, the priest they looked up to would turn his vehicle into quiet side-road and force himself on their son. Afterwards, where reference is invited young Graham to go on holiday to Greece with him and a group of others, John and Kath enlisted the help of relatives to scrape together the cost, but it was just a pretext for more abuse.

Its them that I cant forgive you for, Caveney writes, addressing his abuser in the pages of a book that must have cost him dear to complete, the route in which you stimulated their hopes and aspirations the tools of your own needs. Its them who expended their lives worrying if it was something they had done wrong to make their son turn out the way he did.

Given how much Catholic grammar schools from the 1950 s through to the 1970 s were the road by which generations of working-class Catholic boys and girls got to get in life the Irish Christian Friend in my own home township of Liverpool boasted that they took the sons of dockers and built them into physicians it is impossible to believe that the disloyalty of Graham Caveney and his mothers is an isolated incident. How widespread it is, however, remains impossible to know because every bit of information has to be dragged out of a compulsively secretive church that recoils from guessing in terms of deep-rooted, complex patterns of abuse.

And what happened when Caveney identified his abuser in the early 1990 s to Father ONeills religious order, the Marists? Id merely slashed up my limbs, he adds, by way of context. The clergyman was challenged, apparently confessed his crimes, but was referred to a US therapy centre rather than the police. In 1993, he retired with full honors as headteacher. Kath even sent her son a cutting about the celebrations from the local paper. You were always one of his favourites, she reminded him. The report told of ex-pupils lining up to sing the clergymen praises, little suspecting how they too had been betrayed.

ONeill died in 2011, the serious charges against him encompassed up to the grave. He still doesnt seem to appear on any register I can find of abusive clergy. What distresses Caveney almost as much as the churchs failure to involve the police and courts is that he now can never confront his abuser, save in this raw, defiant but important memoir. A part of him, he confesses, still thinks in his darkest moments that what happened was somehow his own fault.

What was it about me? he asks. You watch, theres a bit of me that still believes Im unique, that I genuinely was your prime number, indivisible merely by myself. I dont want to think of myself as part of a pattern, merely another victim.

ONeills old school, St Marys, Blackburn, today has a drama block named after him, an honour accorded despite the Marist order having been told about Caveneys accusations virtually 20 years earlier. Is it plausible that there is no one who knew of them who could have spoken up? Or did they consider that whatever good he had done at the school cancelled out sexually abusing a 15 -year-old in his care? It is part of the same impossible-to-fathom and offensive attitude that now apparently stops Vatican officials answering letters from those reporting abuse, in defiance of the pope.

Quite how long it will take for that prejudice to be defeated, I dont know. But after they have read The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness , the school governors might at least like to revisit the naming of their drama block, which scratch salt into open wounds.

Peter Stanford is a former editor of the Catholic Herald

The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney is published by Picador on 7 September( 14.99 ). To order a transcript for 12.74 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over 10, online orders only. Telephone orders min p& p of 1.99

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9 Reasons Why I Unapologetically Believe In The Power Of God

20 days ago
I usually don’t talk about my beliefs because the comments segment of any well-thought-out article can be pretty brutal and I’m just now mastering the capacities not to reply to folly. On top of that, it annoys me that people don’t realize that only because I believe in God doesn’t mean you have to, but at the same time-don’t disrespect Him in my face. Honestly, for me, it will cause the same reaction you get when you instantaneously defend your mom if someone tried to hurl shade at her. To put things frankly, I’m not having it. So, proceed with caution. This isn’t intended to offend, but instead to defend those of us who know God’s love and power . Here are 9 reasons why I unapologetically believe in the power of God.

1. I devoted birth.

There isn’t a single spirit on Earth that can persuade me that we can endure such a challenge as giving birth on our own. Speaking from( very recent) experience, there is no way I could have given birth to such a beautiful, innocent vessel as my baby daughter without the help of God, himself . From the pain to the pleasure-nobody but God. Don’t try to convince me otherwise because it won’t work. If you haven’t had a newborn on your own, do you not get the same feeling when you define your eyes on such an innocent, perfect creation as a newborn child?

2. I have survived more than one near-death experience.

I am a firm disciple that merely God could have delivered me from what was once a very sweet savour of all my favorite drugs-that’s right. I’m not gonna tell you about how much I love God and then deny how I’ve experienced His power firsthand. He’s delivered me from many things-depression, craving, envy-and the listing goes on . I’ve had my life spared on numerous occasions and with all the commotion going on in the world right now that constructs me feel even more thankful for the times God has saved me. Those weren’t things that I could mentally beat, it was literally the grace of God.

3. It’s easier to trust God than to worry about things I can’t control.

My mama always said if you’re going to pray, don’t worry. If you’re going to worry, don’t pray. As a child, it was simply easy to repeat. As an adult, I wholly understand what she entailed now. It is so exhausting to sit and stress about things we have no control over. It’s silly. The God I serve will carry those onus for you . He won’t construct you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Don’t believe me? Try Him for yourself.

4. God sees me in brand new light every day.

Unlike friends, household, and adherents, God considers us new every day. Every hour he blesses us to open our eyes to a new day He gives us a fresh start to get things right. He is a forgiving God. He doesn’t say,” Oh there’s Isis, the former drug abuser .” On top of that, He insures us all the same. God loves all His children . I don’t know about you, but I feel honored merely typing that. We are so lucky to be loved by such a merciful God. Lord knows, if it weren’t for His grace and mercy, I would have already been burning in hell.

5. God is better to me than I am to myself.

When I compare how I treat myself and how God treats me, all I can say is” thank God that He is in control and not me .” I’ve tried to end my life on many occasions, but none of the endeavors ever worked. Not even taking it as far as suicide, there are days where I’ve just let negative energy defeat me and God doesn’t want that for me. God doesn’t merely love me on my good days. He loves me unconditionally with every breath that I take . Now that I’m smarter and stronger in Him, I thank Him for always loving me more than I love me. I know it seems like hub-bub I genuinely do, but I know that anybody who has ever felt totally alone, down-and-out and still pulled through knows exactly what kind of love I’m talking about. Feeling God’s love is truly an experience.

6. I have never been in a more promising relationship than the one I’m in with God.

He’s my father. My best friend. My lawyer. My physician. My teacher. In other words, there is NOTHING too big for my God. He is everything I require Him to be, anytime I need Him to be it. When I’m lonely, He is my comfort. When I’m hurting, He is my healer. When I’m scared( or stupid ), He is my defender . He has induced promises to His disciples that I have yet to experience because I’m still growing in Christ, but there are also many promises that I am witnessing in my life firsthand.

7. I started paying my tithes and now I induce more money than I ever imagined-no lie.

Y’all. I kid you not. I started devoting God my 10% and when I tell you He blew my intellect Each week thereafter. I. AM. NOT. LYING. This is a personal journey that I foster you to learn more about . All I can say is that within a 3-month period of paying my tithes willingly and selflessly I ran from making a few dollars here and there to five figures! God( and my best friends) as my witness.

8. I have identified, recognise, and accepted its main purpose in life.

I’ll admit that when I started writing I merely identified it as something I loved to do. I didn’t really seem much further than that. Sure, I told myself that I was a good novelist, but I didn’t expect to be getting thousands of shares on my work. I didn’t expect to touch the lives of individuals all over the world that I’ll never have the pleasure of fulfilling . And I certainly cannot fathom what God still has in store for me! Since getting closer to God I have been able to work in my passion, better yet my calling in life and this is only the beginning.

9. Nothing feelings better than glorifying God.

At the end of the day , nothing feelings better than knowing I’ve tried to honor God. Whether through ballad, worship, writing, pray, or praise all the glory and honor goes to Him. I have never experienced a more fruitful and meaningful life than this one I’ve spent unapologetically chasing God . I’m not afraid to say that falling in love with His son was the best decision I have ever made.

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India court bans Islamic instant divorce in huge win for women’s rights

1 month, 4 days ago

Controversial practice of triple talaq, which permits humen to dissolve weddings instantly, declared unconstitutional

An Islamic practice permitting humen to instantly divorce their wives has been proclaimed unconstitutional by India’s supreme court after decades of campaigning by women’s groups and victims.

The” triple talaq” has allowed Muslim men to dissolve weddings by pronouncing the word “divorce” three times.

The supreme court in Delhi took up the issue last year in response to a petition from seven victims and women’s groups. A majority of the bench proclaimed on Wednesday that triple talaq was ” not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality “.

Campaigners hailed the supreme court’s 3-2 decision as a huge victory for India’s 90 million Muslim women.

” It’s a very happy day for us. It’s an historical day ,” said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan( BMMA ), an activist group that was party to the legal battle.

” We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature .”

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, also welcomed the verdict 😛 TAGEND

Narendra Modi (@ narendramodi)

Judgment of the Hon’ble SC on Triple Talaq is historic. It awards equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.

August 22, 2017

A national survey conducted in 2015 by the BMMA saw roughly 1 in 11 Muslim females were survivors of triple talaq, the vast majority receiving no alimony or compensation.

Clerics had also started recognising instant divorces where the word “talaq” had been texted or emailed.

Arshiya Ismail did not even hear her husband utter the words. She told the Guardian last year:” One day, suddenly, he told me he had given me talaq. He said:’ I gave it to you four days earlier .'”

She has spent the past six years trying to have the Islamic divorce overturned so that she can leave her husband under India’s more progressive secular statutes, which entitles her to one-third of his salary to subsistence herself and their child.

” It’s wonderful news, I’m so emotional about it ,” Ismail said on Tuesday.” Basically my wedding still stands as per the supreme court. I was hoping for it but I still had my doubts .”

Triple talaq has been criticised even among hardline Muslim schools and was already banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh and across much of the Islamic world.

It persisted in India because the country’s Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities are permitted to follow religion law in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.

Progressive Muslim women’s groups say Islamic religious authorities- uniformly male- have been resistant to give up men’s power to instantly leave their wives.

India’s Muslim community is also generally poorer and less educated than others, which activists say has built it harder for women to mount legal and social campaigns against the practice.

Islamic leaders have also warned that meddling with Muslim personal statutes may watch them one day dismantled altogether, in favour of a uniform civil code they are afraid would be Hindu-inflected and ride roughshod over their beliefs.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, whose party have all along pushed for a uniform civil code, had backed the petitioners in the case.

Each of the five supreme court judges belonged to one of India’s main faiths- Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. The majority opinion said it was ” manifestly arbitrary” to allow a spouse to” break down[ a] wedding whimsically and capriciously “.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a peak body of Islamic organisations, had said it considered triple talaq but argued against the supreme court interfering in religious law.

Nonetheless, Kamal Faruqui, a member of the board, said he considered the decision as a victory.

” It upholds the rights of Muslims and other minorities to follow their own personal laws ,” he said.

” There are just a few voices in the country that wanted to bring in a uniform civil code for all religious faiths, but the supreme court magistrates said a few weeks ago that they would look only at triple talaq , not at other customs. So Muslim personal statute has been protected by the ruling .”

Noor Jehan, another member of the BMMA, said she had celebrated the verdict in her office with sweets and soft drinks, but would begin lobbying for a more progressive Islamic divorce law.

” It is a historic victory for Muslim women, something we have been working for for 10 years ,” she said.” It is going to give immense relief to females but we need to pass a law soon. Our organisation has already prepared a draft law which we will send to the government .”

Additional reporting by Amrit Dhillon

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Tyson Fury: the boxer who picked a fight with the world | Barney Ronay

1 month, 20 days ago

Over the Christmas weekend, United Airlines was accused by a passenger of stealing her first class seat and devoting it Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. Via Jean-Marie Simon, the passenger:
Sheila Jackson Lee( D-Texas) in seat 1A the one I paid for dearly, and the one United dedicated to her without my consent or knowledge! Fellow congressman on same flight said she does it repeatedly. @united pic.twitter.com/ Q2c6u6B0Yp

— Jean-Marie Simon (@ JeanMarieSimon1) December 23, 2017

According to Simon, a” fellow Congressman” told her that Lee does this all the time: BTAG 2 TT 12/18: United gave my paid 1stclass seat( 1A) on #788 to Sheila Jackson Lee. United: “not our fault, “but SJL escorted on by uniformed United b/ 4 pre-board military, babies, disabilities. Fellow Congressman said he saw her do it 3x; it’s”embarrassing.” #sheilajacksonle #unitedAIRLINES

— Jean-Marie Simon (@ JeanMarieSimon1) December 19, 2017

BTAG 3 TT Rep. SheilaJacksonLee( D-TX) took my United 1A seat Houston-DC on 12/18/ 17. I was at Gate E IAH w/ 1st class boarding pass, early; she had United wipe my seat and entire reservation from system.Congressman on plane said he’s considered her do it 2x before. Dishonor on you! @JacksonLeeTX18

— Jean-Marie Simon (@ JeanMarieSimon1) December 21, 2017

The AP reported that United has since apologized to Simon, and that’s been picked up by a variety of other media outlets: BTAG 4 TT United Airline apologizes after giving passenger’s seat to a congresswoman https :// t.co/ fYwSukjs6 7

— TIME (@ TIME) December 26, 2017

if(( window.__aa_fraud_serve === undefined) ||( window.__aa_fraud_serve == true)) googletag.cmd.push( function() googletag.display( “div-gpt-3 00 x250_1” ); );

Read more: https :// twitchy.com/ gregp-3 534/2017/ 12/26/ united-has-not-apologized-woman-who-accused-rep-sheila-jackson-lee-of-stealing-her-seat-fact-checks-media /~ ATAGEND

The new heavyweight champ has caused outrage with his comments about homosexuality, women and religion. More than 80,000 have demanded his disqualification from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. But is there another side to this divisive sporting star?

The year 2013 is right for Jessica Ennis-Hill, the early favourite for this years BBC Sports Personality of the Year( Spoty) awarding. Already an Olympic champion, Ennis-Hill was made a CBE and offered the Freedom of the City of Sheffield. Similarly, Andy Murray, the second favourite for this years BBC gong, won Wimbledon, watched by his wonderfully supportive family, and later became an OBE.

For Tyson Fury, the newly crowned heavyweight champ of the world and a late entrant on the listing for the BBCs top award, 2013 was a bit more complicated. Rewind two years and Fury, an foreigner even in an outsider athletic, was busy telling an interviewer before his first oppose at Madison Square Garden that he would hang his own sister if she was promiscuous. In March that year, he was fined APS3, 000 for calling fellow fighters David Price and Tony Bellew gay lovers. In September, he was publicly pleading for the release from prison of his father, Gypsy John Fury, who was serving nine years for gouging a mans eye out during a street oppose albeit a human who was, according to Gypsy John, attempting to chew his face off at the time.

Tyson Fury cannot be a dickhead and win Sports Personality of the Year, says BBCs Clive Myrie.

Little wonder the presence of Fury on the Spoty shortlist has created such friction over the past week. More than 82,000 people have now signed a petition indicating Furys opinions on homosexuality should disqualify him from the BBC awards. The trigger was an interview before his title fight with Wladimir Klitschko last month. Fury had, as he tends to, begun discussing Armageddon and the end of the world, offering up the opinion that the legalising of abortion, paedophilia and homosexuality equivalents in his scriptural reads would signify a kind of Old Testament-derived reckoning.

A week afterward, interviewed about his previous interview, Fury threatened to have the journalist involved violently beaten up by his entourage. In the same interview, he was asked his opinion of Ennis-Hill. Thats the runner, isnt it? Shes good, shes won quite a few medals, she slaps up good as well, Fury replied. When shes got a dress on she seems quite fit.

He was, to be fair, fostering on matters of female boxers, applauding their choice to enter the athletic, before adding weirdly: I believe a womans best place is in the kitchen and on her back. Thats my personal notion. Making me a good cup of tea, thats what I believe. Tyson, thanks. And on that bombshell its back to you, Sue Barker, in the studio.

If there is something startling about hearing these kind of views voiced by an -Alist sportsperson in the mainstream media, then the sense of worlds colliding, of something raw and genuinely other about the current heavyweight champ, extends route beyond the BBCs annual vicars tea party. Those hearing that jabbering Lancastrian monotone for the first time, taking in that 6ft 9in( 2.06 m) shaven-headed, motor-mouthed, deeply menacing figure, might be seduced to reject Fury as simply a bully and a goon, a Twitter troll induced flesh, Dapper Laughs with muscles. Seem a little bit closer and it might be easy to write him off as a injury plenty, some deep male nightmare of rage and exclusion, unformed and raw, blinking in the illumination, Beowulf licking his chops.

Wladimir Klitschko v Tyson Fury in DA1/ 4sseldorf on
29 November. Photograph: Rolf Vennenbernd/ DPA/ Corbis

The truth, as ever, is less clear-cut. Fury is more than simply a cartoon, something other than simply a tedious loudmouth. At the very least, hes an interesting loudmouth, by all close accounts that rare specimen, the tender and personable bully, a macho braggart who also acknowledges to being terribly fragile beneath the bluster.

But then boxing is a athletic that has always inhabited the margins. This is a genuinely extreme sort of human activity, a matter of formalised violence and sculpted rage, practised in the main by those with little opportunity to pursue anything else.

For all the noise and violence, it is impossible to become a champion boxer without possessing supreme high levels of discipline, competitive intelligence and tactical wit. Fury spoke like a dolt either side of his world title bout in Dusseldorf last month. But, in the midst of it all, he fought a brilliantly controlled, intelligent heavyweight bout to take the title, a staggering achievement for a man who, five years ago, was living in a caravan in Morecambe, and whose life has been a peculiarly extreme mixture of the disorderly and the doctrinal.

Born in Manchester into a family of Irish Traveller heritage, Fury was named after Mike Tyson by his father, himself a former pro heavyweight. He has described his childhood as a kind of rolling trauma. When I was a kid, we didnt have a family life. My mom and parent were always hollering and calling and reaching each other. My dad had different women and different kids down the road. My mum had 14 pregnancies but only four of us survived.

Fury was trained by his father and uncles, and was a good, if not exactly stellar, junior, becoming national champ in 2008. Success now is unlikely to change a comparatively humble lifestyle. Fury still lives in Lancashire. Husband to Paris, parent to Venezuela and Prince, with another baby on the way, he can be, according to those who know him, a hospitable, gentle, funny, talkative, slightly disarming presence.

He has apologised for his comments about Price and Bellew. A statement put under by his uncle Peter Fury last week read: I would like to put on record that I am not homophobic. I have homosexual friends and I do not judge them because of their sexuality. My commentaries that you may have read are from the holy scriptures, and this is what I live from.

Fury in 2008. Photograph: Manchester Evening News Syndication

If there is a degree of disarray in Furys public positions, there is a clarity in his view of his own fighting fate, which he sees as a mix of two righteous traditions. Not only was his father a fighter, Fury is also a remote relative of Bartley Gorman, the bare-knuckle king of the 1970 s and 80 s who fought in quarries and at horse fairs, and who remains a Traveller legend. I am fighting royalty, Fury once said. I have Gypsy kings on both sides of the family.

This ethnicity is, for Fury, crucial. People have got to understand that our lifestyle is altogether, entirely different, he has said. We may be the same colour, and we may speak the same speech, but deep inside we are nothing alike. We are aliens. In Furys version, this is a muscular, patriarchal world of blood ties and blood feud, where women have no rights( In our culture it is all about “the mens”, the men can do everything, and women only clean and cook and have children and look after that man ).

It was here, in the idea of noble familial tradition, that the idea of murdering his sister first cropped up in public: That is our route. Just like the Muslims have their routes. We have our routes. There are these girls who want to open their legs to every Tom, Dick and Harry. But they are looked upon as rubbish in our community. We dont do stuffs like that. If I had a sister who did that Id hang her. She would bring disgrace on the family. It is a very, very bad thing to do. We dont do that. Women have to be pure and respectful.

Men, meanwhile, must oppose. If you want to fight, you take your shirt off, you go outside and you have a knuckle-up, and the best man shakes his hand and they go off for a beverage, Fury has said. Ive had hundreds of challenges at Traveller meets. They get a few beers in them and they start thinking they are Tyson or Ali; throwing punches, swearing and jumping around with their big fat bellies. Id love to knock a few of them out.

Fury celebrates with his wife Paris after beating Klitschko. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/ Reuters

There is almost an underdog warrior monarch aspect to all this, a Hollywood-ish quality, in an emissary of this fat-bellied, car-park-fighting tradition becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. That is, if you are able soft-pedal the other side of this twin sense of fate: Furys rigidly censorious kind of born-again Christianity. Like quite a few violently newsworthy young men these days, the current heavyweight champ is also a religious zealot. Fury was radicalised by his uncle Ernest, a born-again Christian and preacher. It is from his read of the Bible that his more controversial, illiberal faiths appears to springtime, including the idea that the correct penalty for paedophiles( a recurrent theme, for some reason) would be to let them in a room with me and two hammers, Ill smash them to pieces.

Beyond religion, beyond family, the third component in this holy trinity of outsiderdom is depression. Those who gratify Fury often talk about his sudden tenderness, the startling contrast between a boxers bombast and some genuinely open and frank dark-night-of-the-soul stuff. Others can feel disturbed by a human who talks about the world ending, and objective it all, with alarming frequency. I do sometimes suppose life is pointless, Fury told the Guardian Donald McRae in 2011. One minute Im over the moon and the next minute I feel like get in my automobile and running it into a wall at a hundred miles an hour. I dont know whats wrong with me. Im messed up.

As, for now, is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, clouded not only by Furys presence but by a more generalised sense of embarrassment. Certainly, the idea that sportspeople should be ushered out of sight because a voluble majority aversion their political and religion opinions is unlikely to leave us with many left to look at. Hopefully I dont win @BBCSPOTY as Im not the best roll model[ sic] in the world for the children, give it to someone who would appreciate it, Fury tweeted shortly after the petition against his presence had been launched. Ragged, raw, funny, blinkered, tetchy, champing, dunderheaded: Fury is both a genuine sport superstar and a voice from the fringes, unvarnished, untempered, unapologetic. One thing is certain: he is unlikely to go away any time soon.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Christian college moves to fire professor who said Muslims worship same god

1 month, 27 days ago

Larycia Hawkins, a tenured associate prof at Wheaton College, attained headlines after wearing headscarf following San Bernardino shooting

A Christian college in suburban Chicago has launched termination proceedings against a tenured prof who was suspended last month for saying Christians and Muslims adore the same deity.

Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor of political science at Wheaton College, confirmed the decision at a press conference on Wednesday. The 43 -year-old professor described national attention in December for her decision to wear a headscarf to show solidarity with Muslims, following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, which authorities said was inspired by Islamist terrorists.

I want the focus to be taken away from Wheaton not doing right by me, Hawkins told the Guardian last month. Thats bad but whats even worse is the kind of tolerance towards the bigotry, for the Islamophobia, for the political rhetoric and[ how] we dont check politicians.

The college has not taken a position on Hawkins decision to wear a hijab, but has previously said her statements on social media about Christianity and Islam required further theological clarification before she could return to work. The prof was placed on administrative leave on 15 December.

Hawkins comments, the college said, conflicted with its statement of religion, which is a guiding decide of religious beliefs at the core of Wheatons education that faculty members sign and must abide by.

Wheaton recognizes that there may be a range of views among our faculty and staff considering contemporary issues, the college has said. However, we take the Statement of Faith seriously; as members of this voluntary community, all faculty and staff are expected not merely to sign it as a cursory requirement of employment, but also to assert it as an expression of their own beliefs.

Hawkins has been asked on three previous occasions to affirm Wheatons statement of faith.

On Tuesday, the college said in a statement that its notice of a recommendation to begin the process of firing Hawkins doesnt represent a termination: Instead, it begins Wheaton Colleges established process for employment actions pertaining to tenured faculty member.

This Notice follows the impasse reached by the parties, the college said. Following Dr Hawkins written reaction on December 17 to questions regarding her theological sentences, the college requested farther theological debate and clarification. However Dr Hawkins declined to participate in farther dialogue about the theological implications of her public statements and her December 17 response.

Hawkins responded on Wednesday at a press conference inside the Chicago Temple, saying shes a woman on a spiritual journey.

I am flabbergasted at the steps taken by Wheaton College, Hawkins, who wasnt wearing a hijab at the press conference, said. The professor was flanked by Wheaton alumni, activists and religion clergy, including the Rev Jesse Jackson.

Students and those in favour of Hawkins, who has been with the evangelical college for nine years, have rallied on social media in recent weeks under the hashtag #ReinstateDocHawk, calling for Wheaton to reinstate the professor. An online petition has collected over 54,000 signatures.

A final decision on Hawkins employment may not come for weeks. During the termination proceedings, the college said a hearing will be held by a personnel committee in the next 30 days. Following the hearing, a recommendation on the profs tenure will be forwarded to Wheaton president Philip Ryken.

The college president then will make a recommendation to the Wheaton board of trustees, which makes the final call on Hawkins job.

Despite the ongoing disagreement with Wheaton, Hawkins made clear that she holds no hard feelings against college officials.

I have no hatred in my heart for Wheaton College or any administrator or human there, she said. Praise God.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Muhammad Ali, Greatest Boxer Who Riveted World, Dies at 74

3 months, 3 days ago

Twitter: Muhammad Ali on Twitter

Muhammad Ali, the brash, fleet-footed heavyweight boxing champion whose charisma transcended athletics and stimulated him a global symbol of social change, has died at 74.

He succumbed Friday, Bob Gunnell, a spokesman for the family, said in an e-mailed statement. Ali, who called himself The Greatest, was hospitalized in the Phoenix area with respiratory problems earlier this week, the Associated Press reported. He suffered from Parkinsons disease, a neurological affliction that some doctors attributed to the numerous jolts to the head he took during two decades as a boxer.

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period, President obama said Saturday in an e-mailed statement. Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it.

Twitter: Mike Tyson on Twitter

Alis illness prematurely stillness one of the great self-promoters, agitators and entertainers in sports history. He delighted sportswriters with his poetic putdowns of opponents and was outspoken as well on race, religion and war. He managed to emerge from his firebrand years as something of a statesman, saluted during the opening ceremonies of the 1996 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Defended Religion

He defended his religion in December after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trumps proposed call for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, saying in a statement to NBC News that Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda.

For columnist Stephen L. Carters take on Ali, click here
For more coverage of Alis life and legacy, click here

In the ring, Ali pulled off some of boxings biggest upsets. He first won the heavyweight title in 1964 by defeating the fearsome Sonny Liston. Exiled from boxing for more than three years for refusing military induction during the Vietnam War, Ali returned to the ring and reclaimed the heavyweight belt by handing George Foreman his first defeat in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle.

Alis first heavyweight title in 1964 by defeating Sonny Liston .
Source: Allsport Hulton Archive/ AFP via Getty Images

Fighting Spinks

He lost the title to Leon Spinks in 1978, then beat him in a rematch to become the first three-time heavyweight champion in history — a feat later surpassed by Evander Holyfield.

His three bouts with Joe Frazier are considered the greatest trilogy ever, with Frazier handing Ali his first defeat in their initial fight and Ali winning the next 2, including the Thrilla in Manilla — a tournament so brutal that Ali compared it to death. The Ali-Frazier rivalry was a personal feud that stemmed from Alis ridicule of Frazier as a gorilla and too ugly to be the champion.

I hated Ali, Frazier said in Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, a 1991 biography by Thomas Hauser. God might not like me talking that style, but its in my heart.

A frail-looking Ali attended Fraziers funeral in November 2011 after his contenders demise from liver cancer. I will always recollect Joe with respect and admiration, Ali said in a statement.

Twitter: Mayor Greg Fischer on Twitter

Elite Fight Club

On Saturday, Foreman paid tribute. Ali, Frazier& Foreman we were 1 guy; a part of me slipped away the greatest piece Muhammad Ali, he said on Twitter.

Others from the elite group to have earned the title of world heavyweight champion also weighed in. God came for his champion. So long great one, tweeted Mike Tyson. Holyfield posted a photo of himself with Ali, saying RIP my brother I will never forget you. And Lennox Lewis tweeted, A giant among humen, Ali displayed a greatness in talent, heroism& conviction.

The Louisville Lip early in his career because of his Kentucky hometown and his brag, Ali called himself The Greatest and wrote poems predicting in which round his opponent would fall.

His playful public image became more serious when, days after beating Liston in 1964, he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, as bestowed by the spiritual leader Elijah Muhammad. While some viewed the move as an act of black pride, others criticized him for joining what they considered an extremist group.

Most High

Asked in 1985 how Muhammad Ali differed from Cassius Clay, Ali answered, according to Ira Berkow of the New York Times 😛 TAGEND

Muhammad Ali lights the flame for the 1996 Olympics .
Phographer: Omar Torres/ AF/ AFP via Getty Images

As much change as night and day. Cassius Clay was popular in America and Europe; Muhammad Ali has a billion more fans all over the world. Cassius Clay had no knowledge of his ego. He guessed Clay was his name, but found out it was a slave name. Clay entails dirt, with no ingredients. Cassius — I dont know what that means. But Ali entails the most high, and Muhammad entails are worth kudo and praiseworthy.

Ali departed from both the good Negro image forged by Floyd Patterson and the bad Negro reputation of Liston, the two black heavyweight champs who preceded him, David Remnick wrote in King of the World, his 1998 biography of Ali.
I had to prove you could be a new kind of black human, Ali said, according to Remnick. I had to show that to the world.

Diagnosed with Parkinsons in 1984, Ali continued to travel the world to promote his religion and international goodwill, but dedicated few interviews or speeches.

At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, he steadied his trembling hands long enough to illuminated the cauldron at the opening ceremonies.

Good Life

I dont want anyone to feel sorry for me, because I had a good life before, and Im having a good life now, Ali said, according to Hausers book.

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was born on Jan. 17, 1942, the first of two sons raised in Louisville by Cassius Sr ., a painter of signs and murals, and his wife, the former Odessa Lee Grady, who cleaned the homes of wealthy families.

He began boxing at age 12 after his bicycle was stolen and a local policeman encouraged him to learn how to fight as a means of self-defense. He became a successful amateur boxer, winning two national Golden Glove titles, two Amateur Athletic Union championships and the light-heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

Twitter: George Foreman on Twitter

He turned professional after the Olympics and compiled a 19 -0 record before facing Liston, a feared puncher who was the heavy favourite in their title match in Miami Beach, Florida. Liston quit after the sixth round, constructing Ali the second-youngest heavyweight champion, at 22.

Ali won the rematch in 1965 on a first-round knockout in Lewiston, Maine. He decked Liston with a single punch that was difficult to see, leading to unproven accusations that the fight was fixed.

Dazzling Moves

As a young fighter, at 6 feet, 3 inches( 191 centimeters ), Ali amazed fans and adversaries with his lightning-fast punches and fancy footwork, which included a dance-like move known as the Ali Shuffle.

The style inspired corner man Drew Bundini Brown to coin the saying, Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Following nine successful title defenses, Ali caused a furor in 1967 by refusing induction into the U.S. Army, citing his religious beliefs.( I aint got no quarrel with them Viet Cong, he had extol the previous year .) He was stripped of his title by boxing authorities and banished from the ring in the prime of his career.

Supreme Court

Praised by anti-war protesters and vilified by others, Ali was convicted of draft deception and sentenced to five years in prison. He remained free on bail during his appeal. His sentence was overturned in 1971 by the U.S. Supreme court, clearing the way for his return to boxing.

Ali in 1970
Source: AP Photo

Following two warm-up wins over Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena, Ali met Frazier for the undisputed heavyweight title on March 8, 1971, at New Yorks Madison Square Garden. Both boxers were undefeated, and each received a then-record $2.5 million for what was “ve called the” Fight of the Century.

Frazier floored Ali with a left hook in the 15 th round and won a unanimous decision, although he looked even more battered than his opponent after the fight. Ali won their non-title rematch in 1974 by unanimous decision to set up a championship fight against Foreman, who had won the title the previous year by knocking out Frazier.

Twitter: Mayor Greg Fischer on Twitter

Novel Strategy

Using the rope-a-dope, a strategy of standing against the ropes and letting Foreman punch himself into exhaustion, Ali regained the belt with an eighth-round knockout in the Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire , now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Eleven months later in the Philippines, he beat Frazier again in one of the most barbarian title fightings in heavyweight history. With both fighters on the verge of collapse, Fraziers trainer refused to let him come out for the 15 th round.

It was like death, Ali said at the time. Closest thing to succumbing that I know of.
Late in his career, Ali was a heavier, slower fighter who relied more on guile and guts than speed and skill.

Following his rematch victory over Spinks in 1978, Ali announced his retirement, only to return for two more opposes, losing to champion Larry Holmes in 1980 and Trevor Berbick in 1981. He left the ring for good with a career record of 56 wins and five losses. Though knocked to the canvas four times — one time each by Sonny Banks, Henry Cooper, Frazier and Chuck Wepner — he always got back to his feet and was never counted out.

Highest Honor

President George W. Bush awarded Ali the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2005, the highest civilian honor in the U.S. A few a few weeks later, former President Bill Clinton attended the opening of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, an $80 million museum that chronicles the fighters life in and out of the ring.

President Bush presents Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ali in 2005.
Photographer: Mandel Ngan/ AFP via Getty Images

Ali had four marriages, the last one to the former Lonnie Williams, and had a total of nine children. His youngest daughter, Laila, is a former womens boxing champion.

Muhammad Alis funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, Gunnell said in the statement. There will be a media briefing considering funeral plans tomorrow morning in Phoenix at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn.

( Updates with quote from Alis family spokesman in third paragraph .)

Read more: www.bloomberg.com

The relationship between Muslim men and their beards is a tangled one | Amanullah De Sondy

3 months, 5 days ago

Facial hair has long been a defining visual aspect of Islam, but in recent years other sectors of society have co-opted the look

When I analyse Arabic in Damascus during the summer of 1999, my fellow students would often tell me I was going to hell. My crime? I was a bad Muslim for trimming my beard. While many of the guys at this all-male organization had big, bushy beards, mine was more like decorator stubble.

When I asked them why they didnt shave, the majority would talk about imitating the oracle Muhammad. Many were also attempting to be as manly as possible. Mostly white western converts, they seemed to identify beards with Islam.

Theyre not the only ones. Only a few days ago the Right Rev Richard Chartres, the Anglican bishop of London, praised bearded vicars for reaching out to Muslims. Last year in Tajikistan, meanwhile, police shaved off the beards of almost 13,000 humen in a bid to stamp out what the authorities deemed radicalisation. The combat against foreign influences also led to the closure of more than 160 shops selling traditional Muslim clothing. The year before, the Chinese city of Karamay had banned men with big beards or Islamic clothing from its bus.

Such is the panic about Muslim beards in some quarters that last October Swedish police were called out to investigate an innocuous group of hipsters known as the Bearded Villains. Apparently a member of the public believed their black and white flag was the insignium of Islamic State.

The association between beards and Islam goes right back to Muhammad himself, who is said to have sported a beard, although the Quran says nothing about facial hair specifically. From the beginning, faith was intertwined with rigid the idea of masculinity: Muhammads disciple Ibn Abbas reported that the oracle cursed those men who assume the manners of women and those women who presume those of men. For men, the beard was said to be a part of the fitrah the natural order.

Even today, those who seek to uphold a political kind of Islam find it easier to do so by strictly policing gender and sexuality. Boys should be boys, in their intellects, and one way to make sure of that is to attain them grow beards.

This attitude has created a great deal of ache among those who do not fit in , not least transgender Muslims. But it has not run unopposed, even among the devout. South Asias antinomian mystics are probably the biggest challenge to this rigid world view. They often wear womens garment and jewellery, have big long beards and dance at the shrines of their Sufi masters. They state that they are the brides of God and this is their submission to God. Many identify as heterosexual. This certainly complicates any ideal of bearded Islamic masculinity.

Beyond the Muslim world, the link between hairiness and manliness has also been turned on its head. Even before urban hipsters fell for the lumberjack seem, queer culture was embracing bears large, rugged humen with hirsute chests and bushy beards. In another jolt to the stereotype, last Christmas beard-owners is commonly encouraged to decorate them with oil and glitter. If you needed assistance, you could watch a helpful video from two men known as the Gay Beards.

I cant help but is considered that those who attempt rigid masculine and feminine portraits of the Muslim man and woman must be extremely frustrated. However the beard started out, it has now grown into something very different.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

This 7th Grader Has Something to Say to the Teacher Who Failed Her for Saying God Is Real

3 months, 26 days ago

She was asked if God was “fact” or “opinion, ” and this educator said her answer was wrong …

There is a God. Fact? Or Opinion?

Thats the question 12 -year-old Jordan Wooley was asked by her teacher on a class assignment. But to make it a little trickier, there was also a third optioncalled “commonplace assertion” that would identify the statement as myth.

Jordan marked the statement as’ fact or opinion’ because for her it is a fact, but according to other people’s religions it may be an opinion.But her educator marked her answer incorrect, saying God is a “myth.”

The middle school student at West Memorial Junior High School was shocked by what her educator did after she gave her answer on the assignment. The 7 th grade teacher not only told her the answer was wrong, but also demanded that Jordan say God isnt real.

I tried to reference things such as the Bible, and narratives that Ive read before from people whove succumbed and gone to heaven, Jordan witnessed at the schools Board of Education meeting.

But the teacher responded that both were just things people were undertaken in order to get attention.

It was genuinely confounding to me at first because I didnt genuinely know what to do, so the first thing I did was tell my mommy, Jordan told KHOU.

Her mom, Chantel, was highly concerned.

A kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom, shesaid.

The schools statement on Tuesday partly defended the assigning in saying it was aimed to generate critical reasoning, but they did acknowledge it wasnt a well thought out assignment.

Still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misunderstood, said the Katy Independent School District. They added the teacher shouldnt be attacked for this but insist that she’ll be disciplined.

However, Jordan says this was a graded assignment according to a report with KHOU.

I love reading so for me personally to have to fail reading because of what my faith are simply shocked me, she said.

How would you respond if a educator told your childGod isnt real?

See more of Jordan’s testimony below 😛 TAGEND

Read more:

Pope Francis advises compassion for all in landmark statement on family values

4 months, 14 days ago

Papel document calls for Catholic church to revamp its response to modern family life, but remains firmly anti-abortion

Pope Francis has called for the Catholic church to revamp its response to modern family life, striking a delicate balance between a more accepting tone towards gay people and defense of traditional church teachings on issues such as abortion.

In a landmark papal document entitled Amoris Laetitia ( Joy of Love ), Francis outlined his vision for the church on household issues, recommending priests to respond to their communities without mercilessly enforcing church rules: Each regions and countries, furthermore, are able to obtain answers better are in accordance with its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs, he wrote.

The apostolic exhortation concludes a two-year consultation that ensure bishops twice gather in Rome to debate issues affecting the worlds 1.2 billion Catholic.

In commentaries likely to be welcomed by some LGBT organisations, Francis urged the church to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while every sign of unjust discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggressivenes and violence.

But the pope stopped short of pushing for a altered in church doctrine. De facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with wedding, he said.

Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that the individuals who manifest a lesbian orientation can receive the aid they need to understand and fully to be implemented by Gods will in “peoples lives”, wrote the pontiff. The church defines same-sex relationships as intrinsically ailment, although this phrase was absent from the exhortation.

Following lengthy debate about the role in the church for remarried divorcees, who are not allowed to take holy communion, Francis did not call for the rules to be changed but said such parishioners must be made to feel part of the church.

[ They] should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid categories leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment, he said. Divorce was described as an evil that priests should help Catholics avoid, while being understanding towards those whose marriages have broken down.

Progressives have proposed the use of an internal forum in which a priest or bishop work with a Catholic who has divorced and remarried to decide collectively, privately and on a case-by-case basis if he or she can be fully re-integrated and receive communion.

Francis hinted his support for this, went on to say that although he could not provide a new define of general rules … applicable to all cases, he called for responsible, personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases.

The position of remarried divorcees was a focal point of the Vaticans presentation of Amoris Laetitia on Friday, with Cardinal Christoph Schnborn, the archbishop of Vienna, stating the document contained huge novelties but not transgress with doctrine.

Schnborn recognised that some Catholics would be disappointed that the pope had not a new set of rules to govern the churchs reaction on the matter. The cardinal, who is viewed as a progressive within the Vatican hierarchy, said the popes answer demonstrated advance was being attained on church teaches and the document would offer material for further discussion.

Schnborn said the document demonstrated something had changed in the church discourse. Pope Francis speaks about households with a lucidity that is not easy to find in the magisterial documents on the church, he said.

Pope Francis has succeeded in speaking about all situations without cataloguing them, without categorising, with that outlook of fundamental kindnes that is associated with the heart of God, the cardinal added.

He was joined at the Holy See by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod of bishops, who praised the popes intervention: In an era of global crisis in which families often suffer, the exhortation takes a positive look at the beauty of married love and the family.

The Italian prelate lauded Francis for recognising the need for priests to help families experiencing difficulty. To accompany and integrate people who live in these so-called irregular situations, pastors need to look them in the face one by one, Baldisseri said.

In the document, reflecting the hands-on approach ensure throughout Francis three-year papacy, the pope emphasised the need for clergymen to reach out to members of their communities and present the church as a field hospital.

Baldisseri envisaged a difficult road ahead for priests, as they tried to follow the pontiffs guidance. We are not used to such a run, he said. Everything was imposed from above and now we have to apply discernment, as Cardinal Schnborn explained. We have to apply it to each and every situation. So we have to keep the doctrine of religion very clear.

Francesco Tommasi, an assistant professor of religious doctrine at La Sapienza University in Rome, said the document represented the popes pragmatic and positive approach, reflecting the churchs gradual and slow pace of change. He suggested that criticism would come largely from conservatives, who may seek to play down the impact of Francis agenda.

The theory thats nothing changed, that its all the same, is that of the conservatives. Each period( a document is released) they want to say that nothing has changed, Tommasi told the Guardian.

The broader document considered Francis recognise the Catholic churchs waning appeal to young person, exhorting churchmen to present a more appealing view of matrimony. I think of Saint Valentines Day; in some countries, commercial interests are quicker to see the health risks of this gala than are we in the church, he wrote during a segment on marriage preparation.

The pontiff also dedicated two pages to the erotic dimension of love within matrimony, promoting a positive vision of sexuality.[ This] must be seen as a gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses, he said.

Formal sex education in schools, however, was decried as promoting narcissism through their consideration of safe sexuality. Such express give a negative position towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality, as if an eventual child were an foe to be protected from, wrote Francis, asserting the churchs opposition to contraception.

In discussing reproduction, the pope voiced the Vaticans opposition to abortion in all circumstances: No alleged right to ones own body can justify a decision to terminate that life.

The pope also showed no opening towards fertility treatment, describing creation as something which must be received as a gift and suggested infertile couples adopt.

Although the apostolic exhortation continues church regulations that have remained in place for generations, the document also contains clues of the perceptiveness that has attained the pope a popular figure globally.

Much hurt and many problems outcome when we stop looking at one another, he wrote, listing a string of common complains of family members feeling invisible or uncared for.

Childish behaviour was another problem the pontiff considered afflicting marriages. Only in their forties do some people achieve a maturity that should have come at the end of adolescence, he remarked.

The 79 -year-old pontiff also investigated the way technology affects relationships, such as when people stay on their mobile phones during meal hours. He considered the fast pace of the online world impacting peoples approach to relationships: They believe, along the lines of social networks, that love can be connected or disconnected at the caprice of the consumer, and the relationship rapidly blocked.

In addition to drawing on the challenges of the internet, the papal document also touched upon a number of other issues affecting families, such as abuse, migration and unemployment.

Read more: www.theguardian.com