FaithWorld

Vatican tells bishops not to reform faster than Pope Francis does

(Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, March 5, 2006)

The Vatican warned bishops on Tuesday not to reform faster than Pope Francis, after a German diocese said that some divorced and remarried Catholics would now be allowed to receive communion and other sacraments.

Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi, announcing the pope would hold a special synod of bishops in October 2014 to discuss issues facing the family, said local churches that come up with their own reforms in the meantime could create confusion.

Pope Francis has indicated he could consider exceptions to a Church law that bars remarried Catholics from the sacraments because Rome considers marriage to be inviolable. Many bishops have mentioned this as a growing problem in their dioceses.

The archdiocese of Freiburg in Germany issued a guidebook on Monday for priests ministering to remarried Catholics that spelled out a way for them to express remorse for their failed first marriage and receive communion and other sacraments.

Speaking at the Vatican, Lombardi did not mention the Freiburg guidebook but stressed that Francis was working with his bishops on a reform of family issues.

Turkey lifts long-standing ban on Islamic head scarf in public service

(Headscarved protesters attend a demonstration against the ban on wearing headscarves at university, in Ankara April 12, 2008. REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Turkey lifted a ban on women wearing the Islamic head scarf in state institutions on Tuesday, ending a generations-old restriction as part of a package of reforms the government says are meant to improve democracy.

The ban, whose roots date back almost 90 years to the early days of the Turkish Republic, has kept many women from joining the public work force, but secularists see its abolition as evidence of the government pushing an Islamic agenda.

“God particle” theorists win Nobel physics prize for Higgs boson

(British physicist Peter Higgs (R) talks with Belgium physicist Francois Englert before a news conference update in the search for the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

Britain’s Peter Higgs and Francois Englert of Belgium won the Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson particle that explains how elementary matter attained the mass to form stars and planets.

The insight has been hailed as one of the most important in the understanding of the cosmos. Without the Higgs mechanism all particles would travel at the speed of light and atoms would not exist.

As U.S. struggles with health reform, the Amish go their own way

(Two Amish men listen as U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in Lititz, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, October 27, 2004. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The debate over U.S. healthcare reform that has gripped the nation and led to a government shutdown is of small concern in rural Pennsylvania’s Amish country for a very simple reason.

Along with eschewing cars and many other modern technologies, the descendants of 18th-Century German immigrants who practice the Amish and Old Order Mennonite religions, have effectively opted out of Obamacare, along with most federal safety net programs.

Orthodox Christians mark 1,700th anniversary of edict of tolerance

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia (R) and Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I hold a liturgy to mark 1,700 years since the Edict of Milan, when Roman emperor Constantine issued instructions to end the persecution of Christians, in the southern Serbian city of Nis October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Eight Orthodox Christian leaders, dignitaries from other faiths, politicians and thousands of others on Sunday celebrated the anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which established toleration for Christianity in the Roman Empire 1,700 years ago.

Roman Catholic Pope Francis was not present at the liturgy in the Serbian city of Nis, his absence reflecting centuries-old divisions between the two main Christian denominations, despite moves by both towards reconciliation and dialogue.

Tunisia’s ruling Islamists start talks with opposition to hand over power

Tunisia’s President Moncef Marzouki (C), Constituent Assembly’s President Mustapha Ben Jaafar (L) and Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh listen during the National Conference for Dialogue, which aims to pave the way for the formation of a transitional government, in Tunis October 5, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Tunisia’s ruling Islamists began talks with secular opponents on Saturday under a deal that calls for their government to step down and prepare elections to end months of political deadlock.

The North African country, where an uprising two years ago began the “Arab Spring” revolts, has been in crisis since the July assassination of an opposition leader triggered street protests demanding the government’s resignation.

Influential Israeli rabbi and political kingmaker Ovadia Yosef dies, aged 93

(An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stands beneath campaign posters depicting Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, in the southern city of Ashdod January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, an Iraqi-born sage who turned an Israeli underclass of Sephardic Jews of Middle Eastern heritage into a powerful political force, died on Monday at the age of 93, plunging masses of followers into mourning.

Dubbed Israel’s Ayatollah by critics who condemned many of his pronouncements as racist – he likened Palestinians to snakes and said God put gentiles on earth only to serve Jews – Yosef was revered by many traditional Sephardic Jews as their supreme religious leader.

French Catholic-Muslim conference concerned about future for dialogue

Fr Christophe Roucou, head of the French Catholic Church’s Service for Relations with Islam in Paris, Sept 28, 2013/Tom Heneghan

Catholic-Muslim dialogue has led to extensive ties of friendship and cooperation in recent decades in France, but enthusiasm for interreligious contacts seems to be waning and some younger religious leaders from both faiths question its usefulness and even show some hostility, according to Catholic and Muslim speakers at a conference in Paris.

Meeting to mark the 40th anniversary of the French Catholic Church’s Service for Relations with Islam (SRI), several speakers recounted how they went from strangers to friends through the interreligious dialogue that was launched by the reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

Bosnia holds first census since 1992-94 war, reviving ethnic and religious splits

(Surveyors look at maps before interviews during Bosnia’s first census in Srebrenica, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnia has launched its first census as an independent state , a politically charged event that has revived ethnic and religious rifts and could shake the delicate power-sharing system that helped end the country’s 1992-95 war.

The 15-day survey, the first in 22 years, should give the most detailed snapshot yet of the enduring upheaval of the war, in which some 100,000 people were killed and 2 million were driven from their homes.

Catholic reform theologian Hans Küng, 85, considers assisted suicide

(Hans Küng in Hechingen, Germany, March 2, 2009/Muesse)

Hans Küng, Roman Catholicism’s best known rebel theologian, is considering capping a life of challenges to the Vatican with a final act of dissent – assisted suicide.

Küng, now 85 and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, writes in the final volume of his memoirs that people have a right to “surrender” their lives to God voluntarily if illness, pain or dementia make further living unbearable.

The Catholic Church rejects assisted suicide, which is allowed in Küng‘s native Switzerland as well as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and four states in the United States.