FaithWorld

Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of official Holocaust events they call one-sided

(Hungarian and German soldiers round up Jews in Budapest for deportation, 20./22. Oktober 1944/German Federal Archive)

Hungary’s main Jewish group voted on Sunday to boycott official Holocaust commemorations this year unless they more clearly show the role of local citizens in the Nazi deportation and killing of Hungarian Jews.

The Hungarian Jewish Congregations’ Association (Mazsihisz) decided to stay away from events marking the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks, and set conditions for a change of position.

In total, about half a million Jews perished before the Budapest ghetto was liberated in 1945.

Mazsihisz chairman Andras Heisler said the group objected to plans for a Holocaust monument and memorial center in Budapest as well as the appointment of a new history institute director who seemed to excuse the Holocaust deportations.

from Photographers' Blog:

Prayers during wartime

Midyat, Turkey

By Umit Bektas

Sunday mass has just begun in Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church. It is seven o’clock in the morning and the streets of Midyat, where the majority of the population is Muslim Kurdish, are empty.

But despite the calm outside, the historical church is overcrowded with a community of three hundred people, mostly children. Candles are lit, hymns are sung and prayers are made.

The reason that the mass is so crowded today is not because it is the festival of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. It is because for over two years now, Syriac Christian families escaping the bloody war in Syria just across the border have been joining the congregation, adding to the Turkish Christian citizens of Midyat.

Israel’s Sephardim abuzz at Spain’s expanded offer of citizenship

(Tourists visit Toledo’s XII century synagogue, Santa Maria La Blanca, in central Spain April 13, 2006. REUTERS/Victor Fraile)

The expansion of Spain’s offer of citizenship to descendants of Jews it expelled en masse in 1492 has sparked interest in Israel, where the so-called Sephardim make up around a quarter of the population.

While no one predicts an Israeli exodus to economically bruised Spain, a passport granting access to the wider European Union appeals to many in the war-wary Jewish state – especially its disproportionately large Sephardic underclass.

A year after resignation, ex-Pope Benedict has no regrets – Gänswein

(Pope Francis (L) embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he arrives at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence March 23, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano )

A year after his shock resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict has no regrets and believes history will vindicate his tumultuous and much-criticised papacy, the man closest to him told Reuters in a rare interview.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who now works for the former pope as well as being the head of Pope Francis’s household, shed new light on how Benedict spends his days, his health, his feelings about his momentous decision and the relationship between the two popes.

Reuters Q&A with Archbishop Georg Gänswein in English and Italian

(Pope Benedict XVI and his personal secretary Georg Gänswein at the Vatican February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino/Pool )

Following is the Q&A text of our interview with Archbishop Georg Gänswein. The original Italian text is attached below the English. For the accompanying news story, click here.

Reuters:  This is a very particular anniversary for the Church but even for Benedict. How is he living these days and how is his health?

At prayer breakfast, Obama talks faith and foreign policy

(U.S. President Barack Obama bows his head in prayer during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama pressed for greater religious freedom in China and offered prayers for U.S. prisoners in North Korea and Iran on Thursday during remarks at an annual prayer breakfast that highlighted his Christian faith.

Obama, who attended the breakfast at a Washington hotel with his wife, Michelle, used the high profile event to renew calls for the release of two men held by U.S. adversaries in Asia and the Middle East.

Pope’s Harley Davidson auctioned in Paris for almost 20 times its price

(Pope Francis signature is seen on the tank of his 1,585 cc Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide  auctioned for charity in Paris on February 6. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

A Harley-Davidson motorbike sold at auction on Thursday for almost 20 times its estimated value – because its previous owner was the pope.

Signed “Francesco” on its tank, the Dyna Super Glide sold for 241,500 euros ($328,300), with a Harley-Davidson leather jacket, also signed by the pope, going for 57,500 euros, both to anonymous bidders, auction house Bonhams said.

Disgraced Catholic order denounces founder Maciel, apologises to victims

(Pope John Paul II blesses Father Marcial Maciel during a special audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on November 30, 2004. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

A disgraced Catholic religious order whose late founder lived a double life as a paedophile, womanizer and drug addict officially denounced him on Thursday and apologized to his “many victims”.

The Legionaries of Christ, which former members said was run like a cult rooted in secrecy, accused Father Marcial Maciel of “reprehensible and objectively immoral behavior” as head of the order from 1941 until former Pope Benedict removed him in 2006.

The real-life Philomena meets Pope Francis and says all is forgiven

(Philomena Lee poses following a news conference in downtown Rome, February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Philomena Lee, whose long search for the son she was forced to give up as an unwed teenager in Catholic Ireland inspired the Oscar-nominated film bearing her name, says that after meeting Pope Francis she feels forgiven and has forgiven.

“He really made me feel so good inside because I carried the guilt inside me for 50 years, without telling anybody,” Lee, 80, said on Thursday, a day after a brief meeting with the pope.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest after funds cut in Israel conscription row

(Israeli border policemen scuffle with ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters during a demonstration in Jerusalem February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel blocked highways and clashed with police on Thursday in protest at a government decision to cut funds to seminary students who avoid military service.

Police arrested about three dozen demonstrators at a number of hot spots, including eight who threw stones at officers, and used water cannon to disperse a crowd blocking the main road to Jerusalem, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.