FaithWorld

Belgian police disperse crowd after ban on French comedian’s event

(French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, also known as just "Dieudonne", attends a news conference at the "Theatre de la Main d'or" in Paris January 11, 2014. A French court upheld a ban on a show scheduled in the central city of Tours on Friday by Dieudonne, accused of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims, the second performance in a nationwide tour to be banned. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

(French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Balaattends a news conference at the “Theatre de la Main d’or” in Paris January 11, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Police used water cannon on Sunday to disperse a crowd after authorities banned a rally in Brussels that a French comedian accused of anti-Semitism was due to address.

Eric Tomas, mayor of the Brussels suburb of Anderlecht, told Reuters he had issued an order prohibiting the “First European Dissidents’ Congress” scheduled to be held in the area on Sunday because there was a clear risk of a disturbance to public order.

The event, organized by a small far-right group, “Stand up Belgians!”, was to have been addressed by speakers including French comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, according to the group’s web site.

Dieudonné has been repeatedly fined for “hate speech” in his native France where local authorities in several towns have banned his shows as a threat to public order.

Papal commission on sex abuse wants accountability for priests, bishops

(Pope Francis talks with children during a special audience with members of the "Catholic Action" in Paul VI hall at the Vatican May 3, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

(Pope Francis talks with children during a special audience with members of the “Catholic Action” in Paul VI hall at the Vatican May 3, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

A commission advising Pope Francis on the sexual abuse crisis will recommend that negligent clerics be held accountable regardless of their rank in the Church, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley said on Saturday.

In many cases of abuse, most of which took place decades ago but surfaced in the past 15 years, bishops seeking to protect the Church’s reputation moved priests from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or handing them over to police.

First openly gay Episcopal bishop announces divorce from husband

(Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, delivers the invocation at the 'We Are One' Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

(Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson delivers the invocation at the ‘We Are One’ Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

The first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, whose election to lead the diocese of New Hampshire kicked off a firestorm of controversy a decade ago, said on Sunday he was divorcing his husband after four years of marriage.

Gene Robinson, who retired as a bishop in 2013, announced the split in a letter to the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire and in a personal essay published in the Daily Beast, where he wrote that his “belief in marriage is undiminished.”

Georgia Catholic, Episcopal churches ban guns despite broad new law

(A gun rights supporter carries his Ruger model SR9 pistol on his hip during a rally in support of the Michigan Open Carry gun law in Romulus, Michigan April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook )

(A gun rights supporter carries his Ruger model SR9 pistol on his hip during a rally in support of the Michigan Open Carry gun law in Romulus, Michigan April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook )

Leaders of two Christian denominations in Georgia said this week that guns had no place in their churches and they would opt out of a new state law allowing firearms in houses of worship as part of a broad expansion of gun rights.

The law, which takes effect on July 1, permits lawful gun owners to bring weapons into public places such as churches and bars, but allows church officials and bar owners to ban guns from their buildings.

from John Lloyd:

Russia’s scorning of Europe

After a quarter of a century of claiming to be a part of Europe, Russia has ceased to regard it as a goal. As tension over Ukraine remains taut, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has confirmed a new line. He no longer wants Russia to be thought of as “European.” Europe and Russia, he now says, are in separate moral spheres.

When I first began visiting Russia in the Soviet Union in the eighties and eventually lived there, it marked itself as a different political, economic and social world system. What struck the Western visitor most was that it wasn’t a consumer society. There were no advertisements; the shops, largely empty of goods, were overstaffed by women who ignored you or were rude; the restaurants sold greasy, lukewarm and sometimes uneatable food. Hotel rooms were bare, with tepid water, cracked ceramics and bad smells. Most people -- even young women -- were dowdy. And that was Moscow. Outside the capital, it was often worse.

One could say -- as I did -- that these things were superficial. Soviets may have argued that they aimed for modesty of living; they were attempting to make citizens more or less equal in plainness, directing them to political or intellectual interests and satisfying the mind rather than the tastes for comfort.

Brunei adopts sharia law, others in Southeast Asia consider it

(Bruneian Muslims pray during mass prayers for the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 at Jame'asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan March 13, 2014. Malaysian authorities said on Thursday there was no evidence that a jetliner missing for almost six days flew for hours after losing contact with air traffic controllers and continued to transmit technical data. REUTERS/Ahim Rani )

(Bruneian Muslims pray during mass prayers at Jame’asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan March 13, 2014.REUTERS/Ahim Rani )

The sultanate of Brunei this week becomes the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law, the latest example of a deepening religious conservatism that has also taken root in parts of neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.

Brunei, a tiny former British protectorate of about 400,000 nestled between two Malaysian states on Borneo island, relies on oil and gas exports for its prosperity, with annual per capita income of nearly $50,000 (29,715 pounds). It is the first country in east Asia to adopt the criminal component of sharia at a national level.

Secularist underdogs fight to be heard in Iraq’s national election

(A fully-veiled woman walks after marking her ballot at a polling booth during a parliamentary election in Baghdad April 30, 2014. Iraqis headed to the polls on Wednesday in their first national election since U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seeking a third term amid rising violence. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani )

(A fully-veiled woman walks after marking her ballot at a polling booth during a parliamentary election in Baghdad April 30, 2014.REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani )

“I am Iraqi, so do I exist?” is the question posed on the Civil Democratic Alliance’s Facebook page.

The coalition of 10 liberal and secular parties aims to be an alternative to the communal politics defining Wednesday’s national vote, aimed at people who feel so marginalised by Iraq’s politics that they are hardly counted.

Cobblestones to remember murdered Jews multiply in Berlin

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(A memorial stone commemorating Holocaust victims Karl Bukofzer and Alfred Koh in front of their former home in Berlin, November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter )

Veronika Houboi watched as a man in a cowboy hat and clogs wielded a sledge hammer to smash up and remove a dozen small cobblestones from a Berlin pavement.

He quickly filled the resulting hole with two identical blocks of concrete capped with inscribed square brass plates.

Nigeria’s surging Christian-Muslim bloodshed strains ‘marriage of irreconcilables’

(The leader of the displaced Fulani herdsmen Haruna Usman in Barkin Kogi, Zango Kataf, Kaduna State March 22, 2014. Picture taken March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

When Fulani raiders carrying rifles, machetes and clubs stormed his village one night last month, Pius Nna was stunned to see his teenage nephew among them.

“He was leading them and telling them to check very well, because my house would have a lot of people in it and they would be sure to find someone to kill,” said Nna, a tall farmer in his mid-60s who said he escaped by fleeing into the bush.

Israeli forces demolish West Bank mosque as peace talks deadline passes

(A Palestinian man holds damaged loudspeakers belonging to a mosque after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Khirbet Al-Taweel village near the West Bank City of Nablus April 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Israeli forces demolished several structures, including a mosque, in a Palestinian village on Tuesday, the day a deadline for a deal in now-frozen peace talks expired.

A Reuters correspondent saw several hundred soldiers deployed in Khirbet al-Taweel, in the occupied West Bank, around daybreak. They guarded six bulldozers that reduced to rubble buildings that were constructed without Israeli permits. Palestinians say such documents are nearly impossible to obtain.