European bishops slam Saudi grand mufti’s fatwa against Gulf churches

March 24, 2012

(Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom's grand mufti, prays at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh February 6, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

Far more Christian than Muslim migrants worldwide, Pew study says

March 8, 2012

(A Polish pub in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 22, 2008 REUTERS/Quentin Webb)

Christians far outnumber Muslims as migrants around the world, including in the European Union where debates about immigration usually focus on new Muslim arrivals, according to a new study issued on Thursday.

Former GDR activist pastor Joachim Gauck to become German president

February 20, 2012

(Former East German rights activist Joachim Gauck, the joint candidate of the government and opposition for the post of president, at the Chancellery in Berlin February 19, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Peter )

XXL coffins become a burning issue for German crematoriums

By Reuters Staff
February 16, 2012
(Visitors toast with their one-liter beer mugs during the opening day of the Munich Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich September 20, 2003. )

(Visitors toast with their one-liter beer mugs during the opening day of the Munich Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich September 20, 2003. REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

Vatican paper brands leakers irresponsible wolves who can’t scare Pope Benedict

February 15, 2012

(Saint Francis of Assisi tames the Wolf of Gubbio/Bybierre)

The Vatican newspaper on Wednesday suggested those responsible for revealing sensitive internal documents alleging corruption and a cover-up were irresponsible, undignified “wolves,” the latest twist in what has become known as “Vatileaks.” But an editorial in L’Osservatore Romano, while renewing criticism of some media handling of the scandal, also said that the Catholic Church should see the current image crisis as a chance to purify itself.

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.