Belgian Catholics urge bishops to empower laymen to counter priest shortage

February 10, 2012

(Cathedral of Our Lady -- Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal -- in Antwerp/Ad Meskens)

Belgian Catholics have petitioned their bishops for reforms including ordaining women and married men and allowing laymen to lead church services as ways to counter their growing shortage of priests.  The petition, handed over on Thursday, represented yet another challenge to the Belgian Church, deeply shaken by revelations of clerical sexual abuse that prompted police to raid its offices across the country for evidence of crimes last month.

Denial no option in Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals: Vatican official

February 4, 2012

(Statues are seen covered in snow at St. Peter's Square in Vatican February 4, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

from The Great Debate:

How the West should treat ‘honor’ killings

By Nicole Pope
February 3, 2012

It took the jury in Kingston, Ontario some 15 hours to return a guilty verdict against three members of the Afghan-Canadian Shafia family in a case that shocked Canada and North America. Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their 21-year-old son, Hamed, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Jan. 29 for the premeditated killing in 2009 of the couple’s three teenage daughters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and that of Mohammad Shafia’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad. The Shafia girls wanted to live like ordinary Canadian teenagers, but their father viewed this lifestyle as a violation of his own interpretation of “honor.”

Pope Benedict names new cardinals who’ll choose successor, mostly Europeans

January 7, 2012

(A priest holds a tray of four-cornered cardinal's biretta hats during a ceremony installing new cardinals at the Vatican March 24, 2006. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Voices from al-Azhar on Egypt, Islam and elections

December 16, 2011

(A lecture in al-Azhar mosque, Cairo, 12 December 2011/Tom Heneghan)

Following are lightly edited excerpts from my conversations in Cairo with two senior officials of Al-Azhar, the prestigious Cairo mosque and university that has been the centre of Sunni Islamic learning for over 1,000 years. I quoted both of them yesterday in my story Egypt’s al-Azhar to preach Islamic message on satellite TV. Ibrahim Negm is senior adviser to Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s second-highest religious authority who is responsible for the Dar Al-Ifta office that issues fatwas. Mahmoud Azab is the adviser on dialogue to Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar and top Islamic authority for many of the world’s Sunni Muslims.

German court rules Muslim pupil cannot pray at school, cites tensions

By Alexandra Hudson
November 30, 2011

(Young boys study the Koran at the central mosque in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, October 30, 2001. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

“Porn row” hits German Catholic bookseller, CEO explains mix-up

By Alexandra Hudson
November 12, 2011

A woman reads a book in front of a huge bookshelf at the book fair in Frankfurt October 12, 2011. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's largest trade fair for books runs until October 16. This year's guest of honour is the country of Iceland. REUTERS/Alex Domanski

Kosher food goes mainstream at Berlin supermarket

October 28, 2011

Bettina Bocca, an employee of Nah und Gut ("Near and Good") supermarket in Berlin's Wilmersdorf district, sorts kosher cheese at the kosher food department of the store October 13, 2011. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

Rapid growth is both dream and nightmare for Berlin suburb’s Lutheran church

October 20, 2011

(Pastor Elke Rosethal stands next to a baptismal font in the village church which was built in 1597, in Kleinmachnow in this picture taken September 26, 2011/Tom Heneghan)

EU court bars stem cell patents when embryos destroyed, Christians hail ruling

By Reuters Staff
October 18, 2011

(A microscopic view shows a colony of human embryonic stem cells (light blue) growing on fibroblasts (dark blue) in this handout photo released to Reuters by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, March 9, 2009/Alan Trounson/California Institute for Regenerative Medicine)