FaithWorld

Anti-Christian slogans alarm Catholic Church before Pope Francis’s Holy Land visit

(A church worker looks at a church wall sprayed with graffiti in Jerusalem February 20, 2012. Vandals daubed "Death to Christianity" on the Jerusalem church on Monday in the second such attack in the holy city this month, police said. The words "Price Tag", a slogan used by ultranationalist Jewish settlers, were also scrawled on the walls of the Baptist Narkis Street Congregation in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Jewish west Jerusalem. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

(A church worker looks at a church wall sprayed with graffiti in Jerusalem February 20, 2012. Vandals daubed “Death to Christianity” on the Jerusalem church. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

The Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem, preparing for a visit by Pope Francis later this month, has expressed alarm over threats to Christians scrawled by suspected Jewish extremists on church property in the Holy Land.

In an incident on Monday, “Death to Arabs and Christians and all those who hate Israel” was daubed in Hebrew on an outer column of the Office of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame Center in East Jerusalem.

“The wave of fanaticism and intimidation against Christians continues,” the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem posted on its website, referring to so-called “price tag” incidents.

“Mere coincidence?” the patriarchate statement asked. “The Notre Dame Center is property of the Holy See and this provocation comes two weeks before Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land and Jerusalem.”

Gunmen kill Pakistan lawyer defending professor in blasphemy case

(The mother of Rashid Rehman, a lawyer who was killed by unidentified gunmen a day earlier, stands over his body in Multan May 8, 2014. Gunmen posing as clients shot dead Rehman, the prominent human rights lawyer defending a professor accused of blasphemy, officials said Thursday, underscoring the danger facing those trying to put an end to religious intolerance in majority-Muslim Pakistan. Wednesday's killing of Rehman in the southern city Multan was the first time a lawyer has been killed for taking on a blasphemy case, police said. REUTERS/Stringer)

(The mother of Rashid Rehman, a lawyer who was killed by unidentified gunmen a day earlier, stands over his body in Multan May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

Gunmen posing as clients shot dead a prominent human rights lawyer defending a professor accused of blasphemy, officials said Thursday, underscoring the danger facing those trying to put an end to religious intolerance in majority-Muslim Pakistan.

Wednesday’s killing of Rashid Rehman in the southern city Multan of was the first time a lawyer has been killed for taking on a blasphemy case, police said.

Lebanon Maronite Church head’s planned Jerusalem visit stirs controversy

(Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai attends a memorial ceremony for victims killed in a militant attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church in 2010, at the Church in Baghdad October 31, 2011. Fifty-two hostages and police were killed during an attack on the church on October 31, 2010. REUTERS/Saad Shalash )

(Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Baghdad October 31, 2011.  REUTERS/Saad Shalash )

A planned visit by the head of the Maronite church to Jerusalem has stirred an outcry in Lebanon, which is still technically at war with its southern neighbour Israel.

Lebanon’s Patriarch Beshara al-Rai said last week he would join Pope Francis during a May 24-26 tour of the Holy Land, a visit that would make him the first Maronite patriarch to do so since its creation in 1948.

Islamic officials condemn kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls

(A woman holds a sign during a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls from the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos May 5, 2014. The Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility on Monday for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls during a raid in the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria last month, the French news agency AFP reported, citing a video it had obtained. Boko Haram on April 14 stormed an all-girl secondary school in Chibok, in Borno state, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye)

(A woman holds a sign during a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls from the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye)

Islamic scholars and human rights officials of the world’s largest Muslim organisation on Thursday denounced the mass kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the militant group Boko Haram as “a gross misinterpretation of Islam”.

The statements from a research institute and human rights committee of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) echoed denunciations of the radical Islamist group by religious leaders and officials in Nigeria and several Muslim countries.

More U.S. Hispanics are leaving Catholic Church: Pew survey

(Parishioners pray at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Chicago April 10, 2008. Once solidly Irish, Italian and Polish, U.S. Catholicism is turning Hispanic and even a bit Vietnamese and African -- and immigration is keeping the church from losing its "market share" in the highly competitive field of faith in America.Picture taken April 10, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress )

(Parishioners pray at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Chicago April 10, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress )

A growing number of U.S. Hispanics are turning away from the Roman Catholic religion of their youth and now identify as Protestant or unaffiliated with any church, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

Catholics represented 55 percent of U.S. Hispanics in 2013, a drop from 67 percent in 2010, the Pew Research Center survey found. About 16 percent of Hispanics are evangelical Protestants, up from 12 percent three years earlier, and 18 percent are unaffiliated, up from 10 percent.

Egypt’s presidential frontrunner Sisi says the Muslim Brotherhood is finished

(An Egyptian man on horse cart rides past a huge banner for Egypt's former army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in downtown Cairo, May 6, 2014. Egyptian presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday appeared to rule out reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, raising the spectre of a prolonged conflict with a group he said was finished. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

(An Egyptian man on horse cart rides past a huge banner for Egypt’s former army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in downtown Cairo, May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Egyptian presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday appeared to rule out reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, raising the specter of a prolonged conflict with a group he said was finished.

Sisi, who ousted the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi from the presidency last July after mass protests against Mursi’s rule, accused the Brotherhood of links to violent militant groups, adding that two plots to assassinate him had been uncovered.

In China’s Xinjiang, economic divide seen fuelling ethnic unrest

(Migrant workers walk outside the South Railway Station in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region May 2, 2014. Hundreds of migrant workers from distant corners of China pour daily into the Urumqi South railway station, their first waypoint on a journey carrying them to lucrative work in other parts of the far western Xinjiang region. Like the columns of police toting rifles and metal riot spears that weave between migrants resting on their luggage, the workers are a fixture at the station, which last week was targeted by a bomb and knife attack the government has blamed on religious extremists. Employment discrimination, experts say, along with a demographic shift that many Uighurs feel is diluting their culture, is fuelling resentment that spills over into violent attacks directed at Han Chinese, China's majority ethnic group. Picture taken May 2, 2014. To match Insight CHINA-XINJIANG/ REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic )

(Migrant workers walk outside the South Railway Station in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region May 2, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic )

Hundreds of migrant workers from distant corners of China pour daily into the Urumqi South railway station, their first waypoint on a journey carrying them to lucrative work in other parts of the far western Xinjiang region.

Like the columns of police toting rifles and metal riot spears that weave between migrants resting on their luggage, the workers are a fixture at the station, which last week was targeted by a bomb and knife attack the government has blamed on religious extremists.

When religion meets politics, U.S. Supreme Court justices sharpen their pencils

(U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan (top R) poses with the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court while gathering for a group portrait in the East Conference Room at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, October 8, 2010. From (L-R top) Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., and Kagan. From L-R seated are: Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. REUTERS/Larry Downing)

(U.S. Supreme Court justices in Washington, October 8, 2010. From (L-R top) Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., and Kagan. From L-R seated are: Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. REUTERS/Larry Downing)

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Christian prayers at local government meetings on Monday, the justices wrote in exalted terms about balancing legislative prayer and religious neutrality. But two with opposing views were downright scathing toward each other in their opinions. Neither is known for pulling punches.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito and liberal Justice Elena Kagan traded in more sarcasm than usual. At one point Kagan wrote, “That the (Alito) opinion thinks my objection … is ‘really quite niggling,’ says all there is to say about the difference between our respective views.”

Amid boycott of Beverly Hills Hotel, city confronts Brunei over sharia law

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(People protest outside the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, over Brunei’s strict sharia law penal code in Beverly Hills, California May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn)

The City of Beverly Hills voted unanimously on Tuesday to pressure the government of Brunei to divest the Beverly Hills Hotel, the pink-hued haunt of the Hollywood set, after the small country’s enactment of sharia law prompted protests.

Comedians Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno and British entrepreneur Richard Branson have been the most prominent figures to advocate shunning the hotel and its bungalows, a favored locale for the Hollywood elite since it opened a century ago.

Vatican urges sex abuse critics not to stay “fossilized in the past”

(Marie Collins (L), member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, looks at Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley during their first briefing at the Holy See press office at the Vatican May 3, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

(Marie Collins (L), member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, looks at Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley new at the Holy See press office at the Vatican May 3, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

The Vatican told critics of its sexual abuse record on Tuesday that it had developed model child protection policies over the last decade and that its accusers should not stay “fossilized in the past” when attitudes were different.

Addressing the United Nations Committee on Torture, the papal ambassador in Geneva admitted the Roman Catholic Church had in the past protected priests who molested minors but had not done so in years because it understood the issue better.