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.

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.

Appeals court upholds New York City ban on worship services in schools

(The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, 10 July 2012/Bjoertvedt )

New York City’s ban on religious worship services inside school buildings after hours was ruled constitutional on Thursday by a federal appeals court.

In a 2-1 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the New York City Board of Education’s regulation, created so the city would not be perceived as endorsing religious activity in a public forum, “was consistent with its constitutional duties.”

The rule prohibits school buildings from being used for religious worship services or as houses of worship, but the city allows groups to use schools for non-religious activities.

Man and myth collide as Indian Hindu nationalist Modi eyes final ascent to power

(Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi addresses his supporters during a rally ahead of the general election in Itanagar in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

Narendra Modi spent his childhood in a modest three-room dwelling made of mud and brick nestled in a narrow, crowded lane in the western Indian town of Vadnagar.

The tea stall his father ran with the help of his sons is just as it was then, a small shed of patched blue-grey tin on the platform of the ramshackle railway station nearby.