FaithWorld

Reclusive cleric Gülen’s followers pose biggest threat to Turkey’s Erdogan

(Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania September 26, 2013.  REUTERS/Selahattin Sevi/Zaman Daily via Cihan News Agency)

At the FEM University Preparation School in Uskudar, a conservative district on the Asian side of Istanbul, young men are quietly receiving specialized coaching in how to pass the exams that give access to the most important jobs in Turkey.

To a casual eye, nothing seems remarkable. As in nearly all Turkish schools, a portrait of modern Turkey’s secular founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk hangs in every classroom. Ataturk’s address to youth hangs on the wall at the school’s entrance.

There are no visible references either to the religious movement which runs the school, known as Hizmet, or “Service” – or to the movement’s founder, cleric Fethullah Gülen, based in the United States for 14 years. But the teachers are almost all Gülen followers, as are many of the pupils and their parents.

The government wants to shut schools like this one down, officially arguing that test preparation academies provide an unfair advantage and place a financial burden on families who feel they must pay tuition or their children will under-perform.

In private diaries published in Poland, Pope John Paul asked: Am I serving God?

(A man browses a copy of “John Paul II: I am very much in God’s hands. Personal notes 1962-2003″ at a bookstore in the centre of Warsaw February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)

Pope John Paul II spent decades constantly questioning whether he was worthy of the role he was called to carry out, according to private diaries published on Wednesday in defiance of his request that they be destroyed.

John Paul, who led the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005, will be made a saint in April and remains for many Catholics a towering model of faith and commitment.

U.N report puts pressure on Catholic orders in Ireland over Magdalene laundries

(Spokesman Steven O’Riordan (C) speaks as he sits with, Marina Gambold (L-R), Mary Smyth, Maureen Sullivan and Diane Croghan, at a “Magdalene Survivors Together” news conference in Dublin February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Advocacy groups for women forced to work at the Catholic Church’s notorious Magdalene laundries in Ireland backed calls from the United Nations for religious orders to pay compensation and face prosecution for decades of abuse.

In an unprecedented report on Wednesday, the U.N. demanded that the Vatican “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers. It also urged the Holy See to conduct an investigation into the laundries.

Scathing U.N. report demands Vatican act against clerical sex abuse of children

(Abuse victim Joe Iacono looks on during a news conference where thousands of documents on victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy from the Chicago Archdiocese were released in Chicago, Illinois, January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

The United Nations on Wednesday accused the Vatican of systematically turning a blind eye to decades of sexual abuse of children by priests, and demanded it immediately turn over known or suspected offenders to civil justice.

In a scathingly blunt report, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said Church officials had imposed a “code of silence” on clerics and moved abusers from parish to parish “in an attempt to cover up such crimes”.

French government retreats on family policy reforms after big protests

(People protest in support of traditional family and education values, in Paris February 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

France’s Socialist government dropped plans on Monday to update family law this year after huge weekend protests by conservatives against gay-friendly reforms they say harm traditional families.

The government tried on Monday to reassure the protesters, who numbered over 100,000 in Paris and Lyon on Sunday, that the new law would not legalise assisted procreation for lesbian couples or surrogate motherhood for gay men who wanted children.

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.

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.