FaithWorld

German Catholic Church may back some morning-after pills after cardinal’s rethink

(Cologne cathedral on the Rhine River, August 18, 2005. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski )

Germany’s Catholic Church may approve some so-called morning-after pills for rape victims after a leading cardinal unexpectedly announced they did not induce abortions and could be used in Catholic hospitals.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, an ally of German-born Pope Benedict, changed his policy after two Catholic hospitals refused to treat a rape victim because they could not prescribe the pill, which is taken after sex to avoid pregnancy.

The Catholic Church firmly opposes abortion and artificial birth control. Many Catholics see all emergency contraceptives as abortion-inducing drugs banned by this policy, but Meisner said some prevent fertilisation and could be used in rape cases.

“The German Bishops’ Conference is holding a regular meeting in two weeks and the issue will certainly be on the agenda,” Cologne archdiocese spokeswoman Nele Harbeke said on Monday.

Orthodox Jewish revival opens up a market niche for Yiddish news

(Men reading the old daily Forverts/Courtesy of the Forward)

The rapid revival of strict Orthodox Jewish communities that has shifted New York City’s religious demographics and transformed Israel’s political landscape has created a new market niche for a 115-year-old Yiddish newspaper.

Next Monday, Forverts (Forward) will launch a daily news website for Yiddish speakers who are bringing the language of Eastern Europe’s Ashkenazi Jews back from its near-death experience when millions of speakers died in the Holocaust.

The New York-based weekly, launched in 1897 as a crusading socialist daily for Jewish immigrants to the United States, has been in slow decline since 1945.

Lutherans bristle at idea of joining Catholic Church like disaffected Anglicans

(The Leipzig Disputation of 1519 between Martin Luther (R) and Catholic theologian Johannes Eck (L), by Julius Hübner) 

Two leading Lutheran clerics have rejected suggestions from the Vatican that it could create a subdivision for converted Lutherans similar to its structures for Anglicans who join the Roman Catholic Church.

The dispute, concerning tiny numbers of believers but major issues in ecumenical relations, comes as the churches mark the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this week.

German Catholic Church shuts down sexual abuse hotline after demand tapers off

(Stephan Ackermann, Bishop of Trier attends a news conference on the launching of a telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse, in south western German city of Trier March 30, 2010. (Text reads: “victims of sexual abuse”) REUTERS/Johannes Eisele)

Germany’s Roman Catholic Church has shut a national hotline for victims of sexual abuse by priests because demand for it has dropped since the peak of the scandal in 2010, the bishop overseeing the project said.

The Church plans to continue studying clerical sex abuse and is in contact with potential research partners after sacking the criminologist it originally hired for an independent report on the issue, Bishop Stephan Ackermann told journalists.

French government determined to legalise gay marriage despite huge demo

(Thousands of demonstrators march in Paris, to protest France’s planned legalisation of same-sex marriage, January 13, 2013 .The banner reads ” Long live the parity in the marriage, one mother, one father it is elementary” REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

A huge weekend protest against the legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption has not dented the French government’s determination to pass the planned reform into law soon, leading cabinet ministers said on Monday.

In one of the largest protests in decades, roughly half a million people marched through Paris on Sunday demanding that President Francois Hollande withdraw the reform bill and hold a national debate before any change in the definition of marriage.

French protest at Eiffel Tower against plan to legalise gay marriage and adoption

(French humorist and TV host Virginie Merle (C), also known as “Frigide Barjot” demonstrates against the gay marriage, adoption and procreation assistance in Paris, January 13, 2013. The women with her wear hats from the French Revolution. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier )

Several hundred thousand people massed at the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Sunday to protest against President Francois Hollande’s plan to legalize gay marriage and adoption by June.

Three columns of protesters, waving pink and blue flags showing a father, mother and two children, converged on the landmark from different meeting points in Paris. Many came after long train and bus rides from the provinces.

Timeline: Marriage and homosexual rights in France

(A demonstrator waves a flag on the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, to protest France’s planned legalisation of same-sex marriage, January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

Marchers filed through the French capital on Sunday to protest against President Francois Hollande’s plan to legalize gay marriage and adoption.

Here is a timeline on marriage and the rights of homosexuals in France.

1791 – Following the French Revolution, the penal code is amended to decriminalize homosexual acts. But social disapproval in the traditionally Catholic country remains strong until recent years.

Sassy French comedian rallies broad front against gay marriage law

(French humorist and TV host Virginie Merle, also known as “Frigide Barjot” poses after a news conference in Paris, January 10, 2013.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

When the opponents of gay-marriage take to the streets in Paris on Sunday, their protest will be led neither by politicians nor priests, but by a sassy comedian in a pink T-shirt who goes by the stage name Frigide Barjot.

With her on the march, expected to be one of the capital’s biggest demonstrations in years, will be a young gay man who campaigns against homosexual marriage and an an older activist from the right-to-life movement.

Leading African Anglicans denounce Church of England’s gay bishop rule

(Kenyan worshipers arrive at the All Saints Cathedral Church for a evening mass at the capital Nairobi, November 3, 2003. REUTERS/Anthony Niguna)

Senior African Anglican leaders have lined up to denounce the Church of England’s decision to allow celibate gay bishops, warning it would only widen the divisions within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, effectively the largest province in the Communion, said such reforms “could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion.”

German Catholic bishops sack head of independent sex abuse study

(Stephan Ackermann, Bishop of Trier attends a news conference on the launching of a telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse, in south western German city of Trier March 30, 2010. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele.)

Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops sacked a criminologist studying sexual abuse of minors by their priests on Wednesday, prompting him to accuse them of trying to censor what was to be a major report on the scandals.

The independent study, examining church files sometimes dating back to 1945, was meant to shed light on undiscovered cases of abuse after about 600 people filed claims against molesting priests in 2010 following a wave of revelations there.