FaithWorld

Pakistan suspends risky Shi’ite pilgrimage route to Iran

(Shi’ite Muslim men offer prayers for victims killed in Tuesday’s night bomb attack on a bus, during a funeral ceremony in Quetta January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed)

Pakistan has suspended buses carrying Shi’ite pilgrims from travelling through its volatile Baluchistan province to neighbouring Iran due to security concerns after a suicide attack killed 27 pilgrims this week, officials said on Friday.

A 700 km (430 mile) highway connecting the Pakistani city of Quetta and Iran, home to many Shi’ite pilgrimage sites, has seen dozens of suicide and roadside bomb attacks claimed by radical Sunni Islamist groups.

“We have temporarily suspended the movement of buses on the highway until the security situation improves,” a senior official of the provincial government told Reuters.

Sectarian attacks are on the rise in Pakistan, where minority Shi’ites make up about 20 percent of the 180 million people. Human Rights Watch says more than 400 Shi’ites were killed in 2013, including members of the Shi’ite Hazara minority group.

French President François Hollande makes delicate visit to Pope Francis

(Pope Francis (R) talks with French President Francois Hollande during a private audience at the Vatican, January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

French President François Hollande met Pope Francis on Friday, making a delicate visit against the backdrop of undenied allegations of infidelity, low popularity ratings and clashes with Catholics over gay marriage.

Hollande and Francis held 35 minutes of private talks in the Apostolic Palace, which he now uses only for official visits after he moved into a modest apartment.

from Photographers' Blog:

Family, soccer and God

by Rickey Rogers

It was around the time that Brazil was beginning construction projects to host the 2014 World Cup four years ago, that a massive earthquake devastated Haiti's capital. The quake killed over 200,000 people and left few Haitians unaffected in some way. That disaster, coupled with the attraction of a World Cup country and the fact that Brazilians were already familiar to Haitians as UN peacekeepers patrolling their streets, initiated a new route south for migrants trying to escape the difficult situation. That route starts in Haiti passing overland to the Dominican Republic, by plane to Ecuador or Peru, and overland to the Peru-Brazil border where even today there are hundreds of Haitians awaiting visas.

Photographer Bruno Kelly was on an assignment to photograph the dozen or so Haitians working at the Arena Amazonia stadium in Brazil's Amazonian capital, Manaus, when he met immigrant Milice Norassaint. Milice's story touched Bruno, and they became friends as Bruno photographed him at work and in his daily life. Bruno asked Milice for his wife's phone back in Haiti, and Bruno gave it to colleague Marie Arago in Port-au-Prince.

What resulted is a story about a family divided by need, but united through their faith.

U.S. military giving troops more leeway for religious clothing and beards

(Indian Sikh soldiers listens to their commander in Nowgam sector, 100 kms (62 miles)
north of Srinagar, September 1, 2003. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli)

The Pentagon took steps on Wednesday to give individual troops greater latitude to wear turbans, head scarfs, yarmulkes and other religious clothing with their uniforms, but advocacy groups said the new policy fell short of what they were seeking.

“The military departments will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) of service members” unless it might affect military readiness or unit cohesion, the updated policy on religious accommodation said.

U.S. anti-abortion marchers brave freezing cold in Washington

(Anti-abortion demonstrators sing as they parade past the U.S. Capitol during the annual March for Life in Washington, January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst )

Thousands of U.S. anti-abortion activists braved frigid temperatures to rally at the annual March for Life on Wednesday, and a top Republican lawmaker vowed that the House of Representatives would vote soon to end taxpayer-funded abortions.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told the rally, one of the key yearly events for the anti-abortion movement, that the Republican-controlled chamber would approve the measure halting taxpayer funding for the procedure next week.

from Breakingviews:

Pope’s “authentic” economics make sense

By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Pope Francis is a Jesuit, a Catholic order which has traditionally, among other things, served the rich and powerful as teachers and confessors. At its best, a Jesuit education inspires the mighty to serve the lowly. The Pope’s address to the business and political leaders assembled at the World Economic Forum at Davos fits right into that tradition.

He flatters the “innovative” for “improving the lives of many people by their ingenuity and professional expertise.” Then he hits. Davosians, he says, “can further contribute by putting their skills at the service of those who are still living in dire poverty.”

U.S. lawyers make public Catholic clergy abuse documents in Chicago

(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)

Lawyers for victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy on Tuesday released thousands of related documents from the Chicago Archdiocese, the latest in a series of such disclosures in the Midwest.

The documents concern 30 former Chicago-area priests accused of abusing minors during the last half century, according to the Archdiocese, one of the largest in the United States with 2.2 million Catholics.

Pope Francis won’t be lenient with predator priests: ex-prosecutor Scicluna

(Newly-ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Malta Charles Scicluna (C) is congratulated by fellow bishops during his ordination ceremony at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta November 24, 2012.  REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi )

Pope Francis will not show leniency towards pedophile priests because truth and justice are more important than protecting the Church, the Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor has said.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the most authoritative Catholic official on the Church’s abuse crisis, also told Reuters that the number of clerics defrocked by the Vatican was likely to have fallen to about 100 in 2013 from about 125 in 2012.

Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of Holocaust commemoration over anti-Semitism

(A boat sails past a memorial on the banks of the Danube river in Budapest January 27, 2006, symbolizing shoes of Hungarian Jews who were shot at the riverside during World War II. International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is being marked around the world today. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh)

Hungarian Jewish leaders said on Tuesday they may stay away from commemorations of the Holocaust in 2014 because of resurgent anti-Semitism in a nation that has struggled to come to terms with a wartime role in deporting Jews.

The Hungarian government is planning to mark the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks. In total, about half a million Jews perished before the Budapest ghetto was liberated in 1945.

Pope Francis urges Davos elites to serve humanity with their wealth

(Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, reads a message from Pope Francis at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2014 in Davos January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

Pope Francis challenged business leaders assembled in Davos on Tuesday to put their wealth at the service of humanity instead of leaving most of the world’s population in poverty and insecurity.

In a message to more than 2,500 participants at the annual World Economic Forum, the pontiff urged industrialists and bankers to promote inclusive prosperity, but stopped short of chiding them for excesses laid bare by the global financial crisis.