FaithWorld

Top Saudi cleric says women who drive risk damaging their ovaries

(Umm Ibrahim sits behind the wheel of her vehicle as she drives in Riyadh, an act that is banned in Saudi Arabia June 21, 2011. REUTERS/Amena Bakr)

A conservative Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules.

A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on October 26 has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from some prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign’s website was blocked inside the kingdom.

In an interview published on Friday on the website sabq.org, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan said women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put “reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions”.

Reuters earlier wrongly identified him as Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed al-Lohaidan, a member of the Senior Council of Scholars, one of the top religious bodies in the birthplace of Islam.

Steeped in ancient mysticism, the passion of Pakistani Sufis infuriates Taliban

(A woman devotee dances in trance to the beat of the drum at the tomb of Sufi saint Syed Usman Marwandi, also known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, in Sehwan Sharif, in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province September 5, 2013. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomroo)

Yielding to the hypnotic beat of drums and the intoxicating scent of incense, the woman danced herself into a state of trance, laughing and shaking uncontrollably alongside hundreds of others at Pakistan’s most revered Sufi shrine.

Swathed in red, the Sufi colour of passion, she shouted invocations to the shrine’s patron saint in an ecstatic ritual repeated daily in the dusty town of Sehwan Sharif on the banks of the river Indus.

Liberal Catholics seek meeting with pope to discuss possible reforms

(Pope Francis attends during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Liberal Catholics have asked to meet Pope Francis to add their views to talks next week on changes in the Church, hoping the conciliatory tone he has brought to the papacy will allow more open decision making.

More than 100 groups of reform-minded Roman Catholics sent the appeal in an open letter to the pope and the eight cardinals he has chosen to help him govern the worldwide Church and reform its troubled bureaucracy, the Curia.

Tunisia faces confrontation as Islamists dig in against resignation calls

(Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) Houcine Abassi speaks during a news conference in Tunis September 21, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili )

Tunisia’s ruling Islamists rejected on Monday a plan for them to step down pending elections, deepening a confrontation with secular opponents that threatens the most promising democratic transition to have emerged from the Arab Spring.

Tunisia has been in turmoil since an opposition leader was assassinated in July, delivering a blow to hopes for a peaceful outcome to the first pro-democracy uprising in the Arab world.

Southern Swiss voters back ban on full-face veils

(A Muslim woman wearing a niqab attends a protest against islamophobia and racism organized by the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS), in Bern October 29, 2011. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer)

People in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino voted to impose the country’s first ban on face-covering veils on Sunday, following in the footsteps of French and Belgian restrictions that rights groups say discriminate against Muslims.

Almost two thirds of voters in the Italian-speaking district backed the ban that still needs to be approved by the federal parliament in Bern before coming into effect.

from The Great Debate:

Why Fellini’s films speak to the pope

La Strada may be almost 60 years old, but Federico Fellini's masterpiece is in the news. In an interview published late last week, Pope Francis called La Strada his favorite film.

Some might have expected a more church-friendly movie, like Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City -- which Fellini co-wrote -- about a priest helping the Italian Resistance fight Nazi occupiers during World War Two. While he also mentions it, the pontiff's favorite choice crystallizes his embrace of the fallible and the marginalized.

Consistent with his refusal to speak out against traditional hot-button topics like abortion, contraception and homosexuality, Pope Francis reveals in this movie selection a humanism that links him to the Italian director of such other classics as 8 1/2, Nights of Cabiria, La Dolce Vita and Amarcord.

Pope attacks global economics for worshipping ‘god of money,’ slams “throwaway culture”

(Pope Francis looks on as he leads a mass outside the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)

Pope Francis made one of his strongest attacks on the global economic system on Sunday, saying it could no longer be based on a “god called money” and urged the unemployed to fight for work.

Francis, at the start of a day-long trip to the Sardinian capital, Cagliari, put aside his prepared text at a meeting with unemployed workers, including miners in hard hats who told him of their situation, and improvised for nearly 20 minutes.

Russian Muslim clerics warn of unrest over banned Koran translation

(A man reads the Koran inside a mosque in the old city, in Tripoli September 16, 2013.. Picture taken September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori )

Russia’s senior Islamic clerics warned the country’s leaders on Friday unrest could erupt in Muslim communities in Russia and beyond if a court decision ordering the destruction of a interpretive translation of Koran is not overturned.

Tuesday’s ruling by a court in Novorossiysk, a city in southern Russia, ordered the widely read text outlawed under a Russian anti-extremism law that rights activists say has been abused by local officials out of prejudice or to persecute groups frowned upon by the dominant Russian Orthodox Church.

Delight and concern as Catholics digest Pope Francis’s frank interview

(Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead a mass outside the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito )

There was delight, curiosity and concern at Roman Catholic churches this weekend as the impact of a remarkably frank interview Pope Francis gave to Jesuit journals began to sink in with the faithful around the world.

In the interview posted online on Thursday by 16 Jesuit journals, Francis, 76, said the Church must shake off an obsession with abortion, contraception and homosexuality and focus on healing those who felt “wounded” by the Church.

Pope Francis’s interview message heralds change of tone on gays, abortion

(Pope Francis waves from a car as he leaves at the end of his visit to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

A landmark interview by Pope Francis will force conservative members of the Catholic Church to re-calibrate how they deal with gays, abortion and contraception but is not expected to be the precursor to seismic changes in doctrine, papal experts say.

Pope Francis sent a clear message to officials from the highest reaches of the hierarchy down to the most remote parish that they should not be obsessed with structures, rules and regulations and not put people in moral ghettos.