FaithWorld

German bishops tell Vatican: Catholics reject sexual morality rules

(Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (R), head of the German Bishops’ Conference, speaks during a news conference in Vatican October 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Germany’s Catholic bishops, responding to a worldwide Vatican survey, said on Monday that many Church teachings on sexual morality were either unknown to the faithful there or rejected as unrealistic and heartless.

They said the survey, drawn up for a synod on possible reforms in October, showed most German Catholics disputed Church bans on birth control and premarital or gay sex and criticized rules barring the divorced from remarriage in church.

The results will not be news to many Catholics, especially in affluent Western countries, but the blunt official admission of this wide gap between policy and practice is uncommon and bound to raise pressure on Pope Francis to introduce reforms.

Bishops in Germany, one of the richest and most influential national churches in the 1.2-billion-strong Catholic world, have been pressing the Vatican to reform, especially over divorce.

French conservatives march against government ‘family-phobia’

(People wave trademark pink. blue and white flags during a protest march called, “La Manif pour Tous” (Demonstration for All) against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage and to show their support of traditional family and education values, in Paris February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier )

Over 100,000 conservative French marched through Paris and Lyon on Sunday accusing the government of “family-phobia” for legalizing gay marriage and other planned policies they say will harm traditional families.

The marchers, expressing growing frustration with the unpopular left-wing government, denounced new sex equality lessons in schools and urged the government not to legalize medical procedures to help same-sex couples have children.

You’ve got mail, Pope Francis. Lots of it…

(Pope Francis receives a postcard with a photograph of himself as a gift at the end of his Wednesday general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

He’s nowhere near Santa Claus yet, but Pope Francis gets so much mail that the tiny office that deals with it is swamped and working overtime.

“Mostly, they are requests for comfort or prayers,” Monsignor Giuliano Gallorini, the head of the office, told Vatican Television (CTV).

Italian police recover blood-stained cloth from relic of Pope John Paul II

(A broken glass of a niche where the stolen reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II was located is seen next to a painting of the late Pope in the small mountain church of San Pietro della Ienca, near the city of L’Aquila January 28, 2014 .REUTERS/Max Rossi )

Police on Friday recovered the piece of cloth stained with the blood of the late Pope John Paul, a day after they found the stolen gold and glass case which once contained the relic.

They told a news conference in L’Aquila, east of Rome, that they found the fragment in the garage of two men who were detained for having stolen the reliquary last week.

African-led traditionalist group rejects proposed Anglican dialogue on welcoming gays

(A man reads a publication by a civil society coalition on human rights and constitutional law in Kampala March 1, 2010.REUTERS/James Akena)

An African-led traditionalist group opposed to growing acceptance of homosexuality in the worldwide Anglican Communion has rejected a Church of England plea to review its Bible-based condemnation of gays.

Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, chairman of the group, said it was “deeply troubling” that Anglicanism’s mother church was trying to project a British debate about “that which God calls sin” onto world Anglicanism.

Syrian battle edges closer to historic Crusader castle

(Crac des Chevaliers, 5 May 2008/James Gordon)

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have surrounded rebels near the already war-damaged Crusader castle of Crac des Chevaliers, a UNESCO World Heritage site in central Syria, residents said on Wednesday.

Crac des Chevaliers, built by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem in the 12th-13th centuries and among the best-preserved examples of the Crusader castles,  suffered mortar hits last year when rebels from the town of al-Hosn below the hill-top castle hid behind its thick stone walls, built for battles hundreds of years ago. The violence had died down until this week.

Syria’s nearly three-year-old conflict has devastated whole city neighborhoods and many ancient sites, including Aleppo’s medieval covered market and its Umayyad mosque. Looting has threatened tombs in the desert town of Palmyra and Roman temples have been damaged.

Move over Superman. It’s time for … Superpope

(A priest and a nun walk by a large drawing of Pope Francis depicting him as a superhero on a wall near the Vatican January 29, 2014. The Argentinian Pope is shown taking off into air with his right fist clenched in a classic Superman style. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Pope Francis may already be a hero to the world’s downtrodden but at least one pop artist thinks he’s more than that. Move over Superman, it’s time for Superpope.

A large painting has appeared on a building near the Vatican showing the Argentine pope taking off into the air, his right fist clenched ahead of him in classic Superman style.

India’s Rahul Gandhi under attack over remarks about 1984 Sikh riots

(Sikh minority representatives stand in front of the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva November 1, 2013 afater representatives of several NGOs have urged the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to recognize the 1984 killing of Sikhs as genocide. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

India’s opposition criticized ruling party leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday for avoiding any expression of regret for the killings of Sikhs in riots three decades ago, a sensitive issue that threatens to dog him in a tight election due by May.

Gandhi said the government led by his Congress party did everything it could to control the violence against minority Sikhs in retaliation for the assassination of his grandmother, then prime minister Indira Gandhi, by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984.

Limits on foreign pilgrims on Haj contribute to drop in Saudi mobile subscriptions

(A Muslim pilgrim prays as another takes a photo with his mobile phone at the Grand Mosque during Tawaf al-Wadaa (Farewell Tawaf) on the last day of the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Saudi Arabia’s mobile subscriber base has fallen by a tenth in two years following  reduced quotas for religious pilgrims, a crackdown on illegal workers and stricter phone registration requirements, data from the industry regulator shows.

The drop to 51 million subscriptions as of Sept. 30, 2013, the most recently available data, from 56.1 million two years earlier marks the end of a remarkable growth phase that led the country to claim one of highest proliferations of mobile phones globally. The kingdom’s population was 27 million in July 2013, according to the CIA factbook.

Thieves steal Pope John Paul’s blood from Catholic church near Rome

(Pall bearers carry the body of the late Pope John Paul II through a packed Saint Peter’s Square enroute to the Basilica at the Vatican April 4, 2005. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Thieves broke into a small church in the mountains east of Rome over the weekend and stole a reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II, a custodian said on Monday.

Franca Corrieri said she had discovered a broken window early on Sunday morning and had called the police. When they entered the small stone church they found the gold reliquary and a crucifix missing.