Ex-Pope Benedict will have security and immunity by remaining in the Vatican

February 15, 2013

(The Vatican’s defensive walls, 19 Dec 2005/Vincent de Groot)

Pope Benedict’s decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.

from John Lloyd:

England’s inevitable gay union

By John Lloyd
February 7, 2013

Earlier this week the British Parliament housed a restrained, sometimes mawkish and at times moving debate on gay marriage – and the bill passed the House of Commons, 400 to 175. The story was not that it passed, which had been expected. Instead, it was the split in the major governing party, the Conservatives, more of whose 303 MPs voted against the bill than for it. (Conservatives voted 136 in favor of the bill, with 127 voting no, five abstentions and 35 not registering a vote.) Prime Minister David Cameron, still intent on ensuring that his party is liberal as well as conservative, was emollient and understanding of those against the measure but presented his support in the context of a “strong belief in marriage. … It’s about equality but also about making our society stronger.”

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

January 18, 2013

(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)

German minister raps Catholic bishops over cancelled sexual abuse study

By Alexandra Hudson
January 10, 2013

(German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger speaks during a session of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament in Berlin, about a neo-Nazi group that had been on a nationwide ten-year killing spree, November 22, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

German Catholic bishops sack head of independent sex abuse study

January 9, 2013

(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.)

Guestview: Yes to interfaith harmony, no to religious police in Egypt

By Guest Contributor
January 8, 2013

(Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Ali Gomaa at the opening ceremony of the 15th General Conference of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman September 27, 2010. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

from The Great Debate:

Demography as destiny: The vital American family

By Joel Kotkin
December 31, 2012

Recent reports of America’s sagging birthrate ‑ the lowest since the 1920s, by some measures ‑ have sparked a much-needed debate about the future of the American family. Unfortunately, this discussion, like so much else in our society, is devolving into yet another political squabble between conservatives and progressives.

God’s gender divides German government in pre-Christmas row

December 23, 2012

(God creates the Sun and Moon, Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo)

A minister in Angela Merkel’s government has sparked a pre-Christmas row among Germany’s ruling parties by suggesting God be referred to with the neutral article “das” instead of the masculine “der”.

from Photographers' Blog:

Christmas in Afghanistan

December 21, 2012

Baghlan, Afghanistan

By Fabrizio Bensch

There are thousands of miles that separate the German soldiers in Afghanistan from home.  For up to one year, they may be stationed in Afghanistan, but for most of them no more than four to five months.