FaithWorld

U.N report puts pressure on Catholic orders in Ireland over Magdalene laundries

(Spokesman Steven O’Riordan (C) speaks as he sits with, Marina Gambold (L-R), Mary Smyth, Maureen Sullivan and Diane Croghan, at a “Magdalene Survivors Together” news conference in Dublin February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Advocacy groups for women forced to work at the Catholic Church’s notorious Magdalene laundries in Ireland backed calls from the United Nations for religious orders to pay compensation and face prosecution for decades of abuse.

In an unprecedented report on Wednesday, the U.N. demanded that the Vatican “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers. It also urged the Holy See to conduct an investigation into the laundries.

Women, many unmarried mothers, sent to the laundries were made wash items for business, hospitals and state bodies in slave-like conditions, and were often subject to cruel and degrading treatment as well as physical and sexual abuse, the report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

“The state has allowed the perpetrators of these crimes to get away without taking responsibility,” said Steven O’ Riordan, director of Magdalene Survivors Together. “The religious orders are still not being held accountable, they have never apologized directly for their part in running the laundries.”

Scathing U.N. report demands Vatican act against clerical sex abuse of children

(Abuse victim Joe Iacono looks on during a news conference where thousands of documents on victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy from the Chicago Archdiocese were released in Chicago, Illinois, January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

The United Nations on Wednesday accused the Vatican of systematically turning a blind eye to decades of sexual abuse of children by priests, and demanded it immediately turn over known or suspected offenders to civil justice.

In a scathingly blunt report, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said Church officials had imposed a “code of silence” on clerics and moved abusers from parish to parish “in an attempt to cover up such crimes”.

French government retreats on family policy reforms after big protests

(People protest in support of traditional family and education values, in Paris February 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

France’s Socialist government dropped plans on Monday to update family law this year after huge weekend protests by conservatives against gay-friendly reforms they say harm traditional families.

The government tried on Monday to reassure the protesters, who numbered over 100,000 in Paris and Lyon on Sunday, that the new law would not legalise assisted procreation for lesbian couples or surrogate motherhood for gay men who wanted children.

German bishops tell Vatican: Catholics reject sexual morality rules

(Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (R), head of the German Bishops’ Conference, speaks during a news conference in Vatican October 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Germany’s Catholic bishops, responding to a worldwide Vatican survey, said on Monday that many Church teachings on sexual morality were either unknown to the faithful there or rejected as unrealistic and heartless.

They said the survey, drawn up for a synod on possible reforms in October, showed most German Catholics disputed Church bans on birth control and premarital or gay sex and criticized rules barring the divorced from remarriage in church.

French conservatives march against government ‘family-phobia’

(People wave trademark pink. blue and white flags during a protest march called, “La Manif pour Tous” (Demonstration for All) against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage and to show their support of traditional family and education values, in Paris February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier )

Over 100,000 conservative French marched through Paris and Lyon on Sunday accusing the government of “family-phobia” for legalizing gay marriage and other planned policies they say will harm traditional families.

The marchers, expressing growing frustration with the unpopular left-wing government, denounced new sex equality lessons in schools and urged the government not to legalize medical procedures to help same-sex couples have children.

You’ve got mail, Pope Francis. Lots of it…

(Pope Francis receives a postcard with a photograph of himself as a gift at the end of his Wednesday general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

He’s nowhere near Santa Claus yet, but Pope Francis gets so much mail that the tiny office that deals with it is swamped and working overtime.

“Mostly, they are requests for comfort or prayers,” Monsignor Giuliano Gallorini, the head of the office, told Vatican Television (CTV).

Italian police recover blood-stained cloth from relic of Pope John Paul II

(A broken glass of a niche where the stolen reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II was located is seen next to a painting of the late Pope in the small mountain church of San Pietro della Ienca, near the city of L’Aquila January 28, 2014 .REUTERS/Max Rossi )

Police on Friday recovered the piece of cloth stained with the blood of the late Pope John Paul, a day after they found the stolen gold and glass case which once contained the relic.

They told a news conference in L’Aquila, east of Rome, that they found the fragment in the garage of two men who were detained for having stolen the reliquary last week.

African-led traditionalist group rejects proposed Anglican dialogue on welcoming gays

(A man reads a publication by a civil society coalition on human rights and constitutional law in Kampala March 1, 2010.REUTERS/James Akena)

An African-led traditionalist group opposed to growing acceptance of homosexuality in the worldwide Anglican Communion has rejected a Church of England plea to review its Bible-based condemnation of gays.

Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, chairman of the group, said it was “deeply troubling” that Anglicanism’s mother church was trying to project a British debate about “that which God calls sin” onto world Anglicanism.

Syrian battle edges closer to historic Crusader castle

(Crac des Chevaliers, 5 May 2008/James Gordon)

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have surrounded rebels near the already war-damaged Crusader castle of Crac des Chevaliers, a UNESCO World Heritage site in central Syria, residents said on Wednesday.

Crac des Chevaliers, built by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem in the 12th-13th centuries and among the best-preserved examples of the Crusader castles,  suffered mortar hits last year when rebels from the town of al-Hosn below the hill-top castle hid behind its thick stone walls, built for battles hundreds of years ago. The violence had died down until this week.

Syria’s nearly three-year-old conflict has devastated whole city neighborhoods and many ancient sites, including Aleppo’s medieval covered market and its Umayyad mosque. Looting has threatened tombs in the desert town of Palmyra and Roman temples have been damaged.

Move over Superman. It’s time for … Superpope

(A priest and a nun walk by a large drawing of Pope Francis depicting him as a superhero on a wall near the Vatican January 29, 2014. The Argentinian Pope is shown taking off into air with his right fist clenched in a classic Superman style. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Pope Francis may already be a hero to the world’s downtrodden but at least one pop artist thinks he’s more than that. Move over Superman, it’s time for Superpope.

A large painting has appeared on a building near the Vatican showing the Argentine pope taking off into the air, his right fist clenched ahead of him in classic Superman style.