FaithWorld

Pope Francis struggles to keep fellow Latin Americans in Catholic fold: poll

(Pope Francis (R) leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

Despite a high-profile first year as the head of the Vatican, Pope Francis has not been able to stem the tide of fellow Latin Americans turning away from Catholicism and toward Evangelicalism, or secularism in more prosperous countries.

The number of Roman Catholics in Latin America, a historical stronghold, dropped to 67 percent in 2013, from 80 percent in 1995, a survey by Chile-based pollster Latinobarometro showed on Wednesday.

“In the recent data we don’t see an impact in the number of Catholics following the arrival of Pope Francis at the head of the Church,” Latinobarometro said, but added it was still too early to fully gauge the impact of the Argentine Pope elected in March of last year.

Still, it appears the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires is shoring up confidence in his flock.

Reuters wins Pulitzer Prize for reports on persecution of Myanmar Muslims

(Bozor Mohammed from the Rakhine state in Myanmar is pictured after an interview at his house in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Samsul Said)

Reuters won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for international reporting on the violent persecution of a Muslim minority in Myanmar, the Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University announced.

The board commended Jason Szep and Andrew Marshall of Reuters for their “courageous reports” on the Rohingya, who in their efforts to flee the Southeast Asian country, often fall victim to predatory human-trafficking networks.

Deceased Dutch Catholic bishop was child molester – abuse commission

(St. Christopher’s Cathedral in Roermond, 2011/Arch)

The Dutch Catholic Church, in a rare admission of guilt among senior clergy, has confirmed that a bishop who died last year had sexually abused two boys decades earlier.

The diocese of Roermond said a Church commission had found that accusations against former bishop Johannes Gijsen, dating back to his time as chaplain at a minor seminary from 1958 to 1961, were “well founded”.

The admission came on Friday, the same day that Pope Francis made his first public plea for forgiveness for “all the evil” committed by priests who molested children, and said the Church had to do more to discipline wayward clerics.

Pope Francis asks forgiveness for ‘evil’ of child abuse by priests

(Pope Francis waves as he arrives for a meeting with members of an association for children at the Vatican April 11, 2014.  Rueters/Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis made his first public plea for forgiveness on Friday for the “evil” committed by priests who molested children, using some of his strongest words yet on the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis.

The Argentine-born pontiff said the Church, which last month named a high-level group on the scandal including an abuse victim, had to take an stronger stand on a scandal that has haunted it for more than two decades, and indicated there would be repercussions for perpetrators.

As riot-hit Muzaffarnagar votes, religious divide favours Hindu nationalist Modi

(Men stand in a line to cast their vote outside a polling station during the general election, in Shahpur in Muzaffarnagar district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh April 10, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee)

Manoj Balyan wants Narendra Modi to become India’s next prime minister when results of a general election are released next month, and not because of the pro-business opposition leader’s record as a credible economic manager.

Instead, the property broker and village chieftain is drawn to Modi’s Hindu nationalist side, believing the candidate will strip privileges from India’s minority Muslim population.

U.S. university drops plan to honor activist critical of Islam

(Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian, gestures as she speaks at the European Parliament in Brussels February 14, 2008. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir )

A private university outside Boston has decided not to award an honorary degree to a Somali-born women’s rights activist who has branded Islam as violent and “a nihilistic cult of death.”

Brandeis University said it had decided not to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who has been a prominent critic of the treatment of women in Islamic society.

from John Lloyd:

Modi: Democrat or divider

India’s 815 million voters started the five-week voting cycle earlier this week. It’s already being celebrated as a triumph just for taking place -- “the largest collective democratic act in history,” according to the Economist.

The winner will matter. India now punches far below its demographic weight -- its 1.24 billion people are served by just 600 diplomats, about the same number as the Netherlands. The United States, with 314 million people, has 15,000. But that apparent lack of interest in making a mark on the world seems about to end.

What had seemed a likely victory for the first minister of the northwestern state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, has now hardened into a near certainty -- at least for much of the Indian media. Modi, self-made, ambitious and energetic at 63, has the ability to project India’s latent power. He wants growth, which India greatly needs to raise more of its citizens out of poverty and to provide jobs for its expanding population.

from India Insight:

Young professionals in Bangalore favour Modi’s promise, shrug off riots

As far as Vinod Hegde is concerned, Indian prime minister candidate Narendra Modi bears no responsibility for the 2002 Gujarat riots. More to the point, Hegde doesn't care.

Hegde, a 26-year-old stockbroker in Bangalore, said that for people like him, the Gujarat chief minister is the only choice to lead India after countrywide parliamentary elections that began this week.

Allegations that Modi failed to stop or even allowed deadly riots in 2002 don't sway his vote, Hegde said. And if the ruling Congress party’s candidate is Rahul Gandhi, the choice becomes even clearer.

Vatican takes a stab at banking purity

(An exterior view of the tower of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) in Vatican City in 2011. REUTERS/Stringer )

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Edward Hadas

The Vatican’s bank easily became a scandalous financial institution of world renown. Pope Francis is betting it will not be too hard for the Institute for the Works of Religion (known as the IOR, after its Italian initials) to transmogrify into a model of probity.

France’s far-right to ban faith-based school lunch options in towns it governs

(Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right National Front political party leader, delivers a speech at the party headquarters in Nanterre, March 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering special lunches to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.

France’s republic has a strict secular tradition enforceable by law, but faith-related demands have risen in recent years, especially from the country’s five-million-strong Muslim minority, the largest in Europe.