FaithWorld

Queen Elizabeth gives Pope Francis eggs, whisky, beer at Vatican meeting

(Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (C) and Prince Philip (L) present gifts to Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Queen Elizabeth met Pope Francis for the first time on Thursday and gave a bemused pontiff culinary delights from the royal estates, including a dozen eggs and a bottle of whisky.

“I’ve also brought something from all our estates, which is for you personally,” said the queen, wearing a lavender dress and a purple hat, as she handed Francis a wicker basket full of food at the end of a 17-minute private meeting in the Vatican.

The 18 items from Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral also included two types of honey, “Coronation Best Bitter,” “Grandad’s chutney” and “Sandringham handmade aromatherapy soaps”.

A Vatican official said the pope would likely share the food with other residents of the guest house where he has lived since his election after renouncing the spacious papal apartments or would donate it.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory apologizes for lavish living, may sell mansion

(Archbishop Wilton Gregory  in Washington, January 6, 2004. REUTERS/Larry Downing)

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta has apologized for building a $2.2 million mansion to use as his home, a move that made him the object of derision and complaint, and said he may sell it.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory said he took his “eye off the ball” after the archdiocese received a $15 million donation from the estate of Joseph Mitchell, a nephew “Gone With The Wind” author, Margaret Mitchell.

Apocalyptic prophecies drive both sides to Syrian battle for end of time

(Free Syrian Army fighters walk with their weapons in Azaz village, north of Aleppo March 30, 2014. REUTERS/Hosam Katan)

Conflict in Syria kills hundreds of thousands of people and spreads unrest across the Middle East. Iranian forces battle anti-Shi’ite fighters in Damascus, and the region braces for an ultimate showdown.

If the scenario sounds familiar to an anxious world watching Syria’s devastating civil war, it resonates even more with Sunni and Shi’ite fighters on the frontlines – who believe it was all foretold in 7th Century prophecies.

Far-right Jobbik party baits Jews in Hungarian election campaign

(Members of the media crowd outside a former synagogue, where far-right Jobbik party gathers for a town hall meeting, in Esztergom February 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo)

To launch its campaign for Hungary’s parliamentary election, the far-right Jobbik party, accused by critics of anti-Semitism, chose as its venue a former synagogue with a plaque on the wall commemorating 500 local Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The reaction was unsurprising: opponents turned up outside the synagogue in the city of Esztergom to protest at Jobbik’s presence, they heckled party leader Gabor Vona as he arrived, and the confrontation was broadcast on the evening news.

‘Noah’ rains down on ‘Divergent’ and ‘Muppets’ to win U.S. movie box office

(Actors Russell Crowe (L) and Hugh Jackman arrive for the UK premiere of “Noah” in Leicester Square in London, March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

“Noah”, starring Russell Crowe as the biblical figure who built an ark to save his family and specimens of every animal from the great flood, collected $44 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales to lead the weekend box office.

It sailed past last weekend’s winner, “Divergent”, based on the novel by Veronica Roth about a dystopian world divided into factions. “Divergent” collected $26.5 million and a total of $95 million since its March 21 release.

Tibetan Communist who urged reconciliation with Dalai Lama dies

(Phuntso Wangye, former Tibetan Communist leader, poses for a picture at his home in Beijing, in this undated image made available on March 31, 2014. REUTERS/New Century Press, Hong Kong)

Phuntso Wangye, a veteran Tibetan Communist leader who became an outspoken critic of Beijing’s hardline policies towards the Himalayan region, died on Sunday, his son said. He was 91.

“He left this morning,” Phuntso’s son, Phunkham, told Reuters by telephone. “Before his death, he was a Communist Party member. After his death, we have invited lamas to pray (for his soul) according to traditional Tibetan culture.”

Kiev-loyal Orthodox church doubtful of its future in Russian-annexed Crimea

(Birds fly over an Orthodox church in a monastery in the village of Nikolskoye, some 48 km (30 miles) from the eastern city of Donetsk, February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko)

Ukrainian Orthodox Christians who are loyal to Kiev feel increasingly unsafe in Crimea after Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula and some have already left, church leaders said on Monday.

Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the advent of an independent Ukraine, the country’s Orthodox faithful have been split between the Kiev and Moscow Patriarchates. The much larger Moscow-based Church does not recognise its Kiev-based rival, which is not part of the global Orthodox communion.

from India Insight:

No anti-Muslim ideology in party – BJP’s Anurag Thakur

Many people see Anurag Thakur, 39, as the youthful face of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition to the Congress party-led government and the party of prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi. He is the son of the former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, and was named one of the World Economic Forum’s global young leaders this year.

In an interview with Reuters, Thakur spoke about Modi’s popularity as well as criticisms levelled against him. He also spoke about internal problems at the BJP, the party’s perceptions among Muslims, Congress PM contender Rahul Gandhi and more.

Here are excerpts from an interview:

Q: The BJP has attacked Congress over many issues - price rise and corruption being the biggest. Do you think these problems will be solved if Narendra Modi comes to power?
A: Today, when the country wants someone who has experience, and can deliver, 65 percent people of the country want Modi as the PM. During NDA regime, there was hardly any price rise. There were no charges of corruption against Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his government colleagues.

Philippines and Muslim rebels sign final peace deal to end 45-year conflict

(Muslim women display a banner during a gathering in support of the signing of a final peace pact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in Manila March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Al Falcon )

The Philippines and its largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), on Thursday signed a final peace pact, ending about 45 years of conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people in the country’s south.

The fight against Muslim separatists and Maoist guerrillas for almost five decades has stunted growth in resource-rich rural areas, besides scaring off potential investment in mines, plantations, energy and infrastructure.

Moonshine is just a phone call away in Islamic Iran

(A couple looks from the top of Milad Tower in Tehran October 18, 2010. REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

“Have a shot of tequila first, cheer up!” Shahriyar tells guests gathered at his luxury apartment in Tehran.

His girlfriend, Shima, said they party every weekend.

“Shahriyar has one rule: bring your booze! We drink until morning,” she told Reuters on a FaceTime call, as lights flashed to rap music in the background.