FaithWorld

Time slips quietly by for Austrian nuns’ resort

(Sister Elisabeth provides a Kneipp hydrotherapy to a guest at the abbey retreat in Marienkron April 11, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

Being blasted with jets of hot and cold water by a 70-year-old nun may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but it has some firm fans. They return year after year to Marienkron, an Austrian health resort 3 km (2 miles) from the Hungarian border.

The regular guests relish the tranquil yet disciplined atmosphere fostered by the Cistercian nuns who run the Kneipp hydrotherapy centre, look after the visitors and offer opportunities for prayer and life-coaching.

But the ethos of Marienkron, a low-profile resort frequented mainly by older guests seeking relief from aches and pains and mobility problems, may not survive once the current generation of nuns is gone.

Just five of the abbey’s 12 nuns are still fit or young enough to work in the resort, and management has already been handed over to a secular director.

Ground-breaking Good Friday mass signals thaw in Cyprus

(A church and a mosque are seen in a village near Famagusta, north Cyprus, February 3, 2008.  REUTERS/Fatih Saribas)

For the first time in more than half a century, a church in northern Cyprus will host Good Friday mass in a sign of a thaw in relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Off limits to Greek Cypriots for 58 years, the Church of St. George Exorinos in the medieval city of Famagusta will host a liturgy on what is one of the most important religious dates in the Greek Orthodox calendar.

Pope Francis struggles to keep fellow Latin Americans in Catholic fold: poll

(Pope Francis (R) leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

Despite a high-profile first year as the head of the Vatican, Pope Francis has not been able to stem the tide of fellow Latin Americans turning away from Catholicism and toward Evangelicalism, or secularism in more prosperous countries.

The number of Roman Catholics in Latin America, a historical stronghold, dropped to 67 percent in 2013, from 80 percent in 1995, a survey by Chile-based pollster Latinobarometro showed on Wednesday.

Reuters wins Pulitzer Prize for reports on persecution of Myanmar Muslims

(Bozor Mohammed from the Rakhine state in Myanmar is pictured after an interview at his house in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Samsul Said)

Reuters won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for international reporting on the violent persecution of a Muslim minority in Myanmar, the Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University announced.

The board commended Jason Szep and Andrew Marshall of Reuters for their “courageous reports” on the Rohingya, who in their efforts to flee the Southeast Asian country, often fall victim to predatory human-trafficking networks.

Deceased Dutch Catholic bishop was child molester – abuse commission

(St. Christopher’s Cathedral in Roermond, 2011/Arch)

The Dutch Catholic Church, in a rare admission of guilt among senior clergy, has confirmed that a bishop who died last year had sexually abused two boys decades earlier.

The diocese of Roermond said a Church commission had found that accusations against former bishop Johannes Gijsen, dating back to his time as chaplain at a minor seminary from 1958 to 1961, were “well founded”.

The admission came on Friday, the same day that Pope Francis made his first public plea for forgiveness for “all the evil” committed by priests who molested children, and said the Church had to do more to discipline wayward clerics.

Pope Francis asks forgiveness for ‘evil’ of child abuse by priests

(Pope Francis waves as he arrives for a meeting with members of an association for children at the Vatican April 11, 2014.  Rueters/Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis made his first public plea for forgiveness on Friday for the “evil” committed by priests who molested children, using some of his strongest words yet on the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis.

The Argentine-born pontiff said the Church, which last month named a high-level group on the scandal including an abuse victim, had to take an stronger stand on a scandal that has haunted it for more than two decades, and indicated there would be repercussions for perpetrators.

As riot-hit Muzaffarnagar votes, religious divide favours Hindu nationalist Modi

(Men stand in a line to cast their vote outside a polling station during the general election, in Shahpur in Muzaffarnagar district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh April 10, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee)

Manoj Balyan wants Narendra Modi to become India’s next prime minister when results of a general election are released next month, and not because of the pro-business opposition leader’s record as a credible economic manager.

Instead, the property broker and village chieftain is drawn to Modi’s Hindu nationalist side, believing the candidate will strip privileges from India’s minority Muslim population.

U.S. university drops plan to honor activist critical of Islam

(Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian, gestures as she speaks at the European Parliament in Brussels February 14, 2008. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir )

A private university outside Boston has decided not to award an honorary degree to a Somali-born women’s rights activist who has branded Islam as violent and “a nihilistic cult of death.”

Brandeis University said it had decided not to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who has been a prominent critic of the treatment of women in Islamic society.

Vatican takes a stab at banking purity

(An exterior view of the tower of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) in Vatican City in 2011. REUTERS/Stringer )

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Edward Hadas

The Vatican’s bank easily became a scandalous financial institution of world renown. Pope Francis is betting it will not be too hard for the Institute for the Works of Religion (known as the IOR, after its Italian initials) to transmogrify into a model of probity.

France’s far-right to ban faith-based school lunch options in towns it governs

(Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right National Front political party leader, delivers a speech at the party headquarters in Nanterre, March 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering special lunches to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.

France’s republic has a strict secular tradition enforceable by law, but faith-related demands have risen in recent years, especially from the country’s five-million-strong Muslim minority, the largest in Europe.