FaithWorld

Pope Francis drew 6.6 million to Vatican in 2013, three times more than Benedict

(A general view of Saint Peter’s Square is seen as the faithful gather during Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday mass at the Vatican March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

More than 6.6 million people attended events with Pope Francis at the Vatican from his election in March to the end of 2013, figures released on Thursday showed, compared to 2.3 million for former Pope Benedict in all of 2012.

The Vatican said the figures were based on the number of tickets issued for papal events where they are needed, such as general audiences, Masses and private audiences. They were also based on estimates of the number of people at events where tickets are not needed, such as his weekly appearance from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

The Vatican did not issue comparative figures on Thursday but figures released on January 4, 2013 showed that some 2.3 million people attended all events presided by Benedict in 2012. Benedict, citing health reasons, resigned on February 28, 2013, becoming the first pope in 600 years to do so rather than ruling for life. He is now known as Pope Emeritus.

(Pope Francis encourages finding joy during mass in St. Peter’s Square on Family Day, Oct 27, 2013 . Nathan Frandino reports in this Reuters video)

India’s Modi says he was shaken to the core by Gujarat’s 2002 religious riots

(Smoke pours from the carriage of a train on fire in Godhra, in the Indian state of Gujarat, February 27, 2002, during the riots there that claimed at least 1,000 lives. REUTERS/Str)

Indian prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has said he was deeply pained by religious violence during his time as chief minister of Gujarat state, seeking closure on a deeply divisive issue that has dogged him for more than a decade.

Modi’s remarks on his blog were the furthest the powerful Hindi nationalist has gone to commiserate with the victims of the 2002 religious bloodshed, one of India’s worst since the 1947 partition of the subcontinent.

Jewish Congress offers soccer organisations help to fight anti-Semitism

(Nicolas Anelka runs during a training session in Shanghai July 24, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song)

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) offered on Tuesday to help European soccer’s governing body UEFA and the English FA to fight anti-Semitism in the sport following Nicolas Anelka’s “quenelle” salute.

It has also called on the soccer authorities to ban Anelka, 34, who is being investigated by the English FA, for the gesture.

It’s official: Vatican says Pope Francis has not abolished sin

(A panel depicting the sin of gluttony in “The Seven Mortal Sins and the Four Last Things” by Hieronymus Bosch, around 1500, now in the Prado Museum in Madrid)

The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had “abolished sin”, after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled “Francis’ Revolution: He has abolished sin”.

Outgoing top Muslim envoy seeks accord with Christians

(Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu speaks during the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous)

The outgoing head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said on Tuesday some Muslim states should broaden rights for religious minorities. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who stepped down on Monday after nine years as secretary general of the 57-country group representing the Islamic world, also said Western countries should do more to combat an increase of prejudice against Muslims there.

Concern among churches worldwide for fellow Christians in the Middle East has risen in recent years as wars and Islamist rebels have killed or driven many from their homes there. The Jeddah-based OIC’s religious diplomacy was long focused on a fruitless effort to have the United Nations pass a global ban on insults to Islam. The fate of Christian minorities in Muslim countries rarely figured in its declarations.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

The pope’s divisions

The political roundups of 2013 make little mention of perhaps the most important event to alter the political landscape in the last 12 months. It was not the incompetence of the Obamacare rollout -- though that will resonate beyond the November midterms. Nor was it House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) finally snapping at the Tea Party hounds who have been nipping at his heels.

No, it was the March 13 election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a cardinal from Argentina, as pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is significant the new pope chose as his name Francis, after Francis of Assisi, the 12th century saint who shunned comfort and wealth, and devoted his life to helping the poor and treating animals humanely. Pope Francis said he was inspired by a Brazilian colleague, who whispered to him, “Don’t forget the poor.” Since then he has rarely missed the chance to reprimand the rich and embrace the poor, as shown by his refusal to adopt the palatial papal lifestyle in favor of more modest accommodation.

France may ban provocative black comedian for anti-Semitic jibes

(Dieudonne M’bala M’bala (R) with anti-Zionist Party leader Yahia Gouasmi and far-right writer Alain Soral (C) in Paris on May 13, 2009 during their campaign for the European Parliament. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes )

France is considering banning performances by a black comedian whose shows have repeatedly insulted the memory of Holocaust victims and could threaten public order, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday.

He said his ministry is studying legal ways to ban shows by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a comedian repeatedly fined for hate speech who ran in the 2009 European Parliament elections at the head of an “Anti-Zionist List” including far-right activists.

Israeli court cancels mayoral vote in town at centre of Jewish divisions

(Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men scuffle with Israeli policemen as they protest against the government’s pledge to curb Jewish zealotry in Israel, in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem December 26, 2011. REUTERS/Oren Nahshon )

An Israeli court dealt a blow on Thursday to the ultra-Orthodox community’s political hold over a town that has been a focus of national divisions between the Jewish state’s secular majority and its religious minority.

Citing voter fraud in Beit Shemesh, a town of 80,000, a court in nearby Jerusalem cancelled the result of an October mayoral election, won by the ultra-Orthodox incumbent Moshe Abutbul, and ordered a new ballot.

U.S. court overturns senior Catholic priest’s conviction in sex cover-up

(Monsignor William Lynn during his trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Scott Anderson)

A Pennsylvania court overturned the conviction of the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be found guilty of covering up child sex abuse by a priest and ordered he be freed on Thursday.

Monsignor William Lynn was convicted in June 2012 of endangering the welfare of a child by reassigning a priest with a history of sexual abuse to a Philadelphia parish that was unaware of his past.

Egypt designates the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group

(People look at the damage after an explosion near a security building in Egypt’s Nile Delta city of Mansoura in Dakahlyia province, about 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Cairo December 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany )

The Egyptian government intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday, formally listing the group as a terrorist organisation after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people.

The move marked a major escalation in the army-backed government’s campaign to suppress the Islamist movement that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the presidency 18 months ago but has been driven underground since the army toppled him in July.