Yasser Arafat Christian Conversion Hope, Pope To Review Priest Appeals, Christians Flee Iraq

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Here’s what you need to know in Christian News for Nov. 13:

Christian Writer Suggests Yasser Arafat Converted to Christianity

According to a Christian writer and close friend of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Arafat may have converted to Christianity before he died in 2004.

The news comes from RT Kendall, who says that Arafat and him watched Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” about 10 years ago. Kendall said Arafat wept during the film.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in heaven,’ Kendall said in an interview with Premier. Christianity magazine. ‘I’ll tell you why. I prayed with him five times, anointed him with oil, I gave him a [salvation] prayer … I’m not saying I know that he’s saved; I’m saying I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“He took my hand and squeezed it,” Kendall said. “He was sending me a signal and I knew I was getting through.”

Pope Francis Plans to Process Priest Appeals

The Vatican announced this week that Pope Francis is planning to create a panel to process a “backlog” of appeals from priests who have been accused of sexual abuse crimes to minors.

“Hearing the appeals is a very important job, especially those on abuse of minors, and the backlog of cases is at risk of absorbing all the time of the congregation,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told The Tablet, a Catholic news weekly.

“[The accused] shall have his case examined by the whole body of members of the congregation, the ordinary session, which may also examine other specific cases upon papal request, and/or examine cases referred to it by the newly created college,” he added.

The new college, which will be overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will primarily focus on appeals from defrocked priests,according to Reuters.

Between 2004 and 2014, about 850 priests have been defrocked.

Thousands of Christians Flee Iraq

In the last three months, about 4,000 Christians have fled the Iraqi city of Mosul into Jordan.

The ISIS group has captured Mosul, forcing Christians to leave the city. ISIS soldiers have demanded that Christians pay extra taxes, convert to Islam or else face death.

“They threatened us, saying you have to either leave, be slaughtered, convert to Islam, or pay the jizya tax [on non-Muslims]. We couldn’t bear living in Mosul, and we were scared for our girls and our honor,” said Lubna, a former resident of Mosul.

In total, about 13.6 million people have been displaced, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

Fighting for Right of 7-year-old to Pass Out Candy Canes

Advocates for Faith & Freedom have asked for a preliminary injunction after a California school district stopped a student from passing out candy canes to his class.

Last December, Isaiah Martinez, 7, had given candy canes to his classmates with the candy cane legend attached. That legend refers to a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ.

Martinez’ teacher took up the candy canes, telling Martinez that “Jesus is not allowed in school.”

The case is already in federal court after Martinez’ family felt the school violated their son’s right to freedom of religious speech.

The request for the injunction is in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

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