from FaithWorld:

Analysis: Catholic Church raises hopes of role in Cuban change

By Reuters Staff
September 17, 2010

cuba 1The Roman Catholic Church has won praise for securing the release of political prisoners in Cuba, raising hopes it can do more to broker reforms on the communist-ruled island and perhaps even help improve U.S.-Cuba ties.

from FaithWorld:

Taiwan Buddhist charity Tzu Chi sets up shop in atheist China

August 20, 2010

charity 1China's ruling Communist Party has a testy and often bitter relationship with religion.  During the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, temples and churches were shut, statues smashed, scriptures burned, and monks and nuns forced to return to secular life, often after receiving a good beating or even jail.

from FaithWorld:

Report from Tibet: “We believe in Buddhism, Chinese believe in nothing”

July 9, 2010

lhasaTibet is richer and more developed than it has ever been, its people healthier, more literate, and better dressed and fed.  But the bulging supermarkets, snappy new airports and gleaming restored temples of this remote and mountainous region cannot hide broad contradictions and a deep sense of unhappiness among many Tibetans that China is sweeping away their culture.

from FaithWorld:

Vatican official’s Cuba visit spurs new hopes for political prisoners

By Reuters Staff
June 22, 2010

mambertiA five-day visit to Cuba by Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, which ended on Sunday, has raised hopes that more political prisoners will be released and the Catholic Church's recent prominence will continue, dissident and church leaders say.

from FaithWorld:

Vatican official visits Cuba amid local Catholic Church calls for change

By Reuters Staff
June 15, 2010

cuban prisonerVatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Dominque Mamberti visits Cuba this week at a time when the Catholic Church is flexing its political muscle and calling for change on the communist-led island.  His five-day visit, starting on Tuesday, follows the release of one of Cuba's estimated 190 political prisoners and the transfer of 12 others to jails closer to their homes in moves requested by church leaders.

from FaithWorld:

With new Catholic leader in Hanoi, a breakthrough in sight?

May 11, 2010

Protesters wave banners in support of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi outside the city's cathedral, 7 May 2010/Nguyen Huy Kham

from FaithWorld:

Cuban pilgrimage mixes Santeria with Catholic faith

December 18, 2009

santeria1

Worshipper pushes rock to shrine of Saint Lazarus, 17 Dec 2009/Desmond Boylan

Some dressed in sackcloth, a few crawling on their hands and knees, thousands of Cubans paid homage  to a Catholic saint who doubles as a powerful deity in the Afro-Cuban Santeria faith. The Saint Lazarus pilgrimage on Thursday is one of the most important religious events on the communist-run island, melding Afro-Cuban faiths with Roman Catholic beliefs that were marginalized for decades after the 1959 revolution.

from FaithWorld:

Lottery system to chose next Serbian Orthodox patriarch

November 17, 2009

pavel-funeral (Photo: Prelates pay respects to Patriarch Pavel, 15 Nov 2009/Ivan Milutinovic)

If U.S. voters elected their president in the same way the Serbian Orthodox Church chooses it patriarch, they could have seen Ralph Nader, Ross Perot or other third place finishers taking up residence in the White House. That's because the Church, in a move originally aimed at thwarting Communist authorities, uses a system that incorporates a lottery within the election by church elders to choose a leader.

from FaithWorld:

How East Germany’s communists misunderstood its Protestants

November 9, 2009

schroederAnniversaries are a time to look back at how the world was before the historic event being commemorated. During a recent trip to Berlin in advance of today's 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall, I asked the former East German theologian and politician Richard Schröder for his recollections of the life as a Protestant pastor before the country fell apart. He zeroed in on a fascinating aspect of the Communists' anti-religion policy I'd never heard about before.

from FaithWorld:

Some east German Protestants feel overlooked as Wall recalled

November 6, 2009

thomaskircheAs Germany celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, some Protestants feel the crucial role their church played in shepharding the democracy movement to success is quietly being overlooked. This seems strange to someone like myself who reported on those events back then. Any reporter in Berlin in the tense weeks before Nov. 9, 1989 knew the Protestant (mostly Lutheran) churches sheltered dissidents and was working for reform. But the idea that this was fading from public view came up during my recent visit to Leipzig when, at an organ recital in Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche), the pastor mentioned the point in a sermon.