FaithWorld

Pope Francis renews his passport as a regular Argentine citizen

(Pope Francis’ new national identification card and passport are seen in this undated handout photo taken by Argentina’s Interior Ministry and distributed on February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Interior Ministry/Handout)

Pope Francis wants to travel the world as a regular Argentine and not a privileged citizen of the Vatican City microstate, Argentina said on Monday.

The head of the Catholic Church and former bishop of Buenos Aires has asked his birth country to renew his passport and identification card, the country’s interior and transportation ministry said.

“Francis specifically asked not to enjoy any privileges so his new identification card and passport have been processed through the usual administrative channels,” Minister Florencio Randazzo said.

“In coming days, he will receive his passport in the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, where he has stated he is a resident,” Randazzo said.

Snake-handling preacher dies in Kentucky after being bitten by snake

(Handling serpents at the Pentecostal Church of God in Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky, 15 September 1946/ Department of the Interior)

A Kentucky snake-handling preacher who appeared in a television show about the religious practice died of a snakebite after refusing medical treatment, authorities said on Sunday.

Jamie Coots was found dead at about 10 p.m. EST on Saturday at his house in Middlesboro, Kentucky, according to Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.

At Sochi Olympics, online kosher meal orders and extra rabbis for visiting Jews

(Sochi Rabbi Ari Edelkopf holds a Torah scroll at one of several prayer centres set up to cater to Jewish visitors to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia, in Krasnaya Polyana February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Sochi’s lone rabbi has drawn on reinforcements from the United States and shipped in 7,000 kosher meals to help cater for Jewish visitors to the Winter Olympics in Russia, a country where Judaism is reviving after decades of repression.

Speaking virtually no Russian at the time, Ari Edelkopf, a native of California, moved to Sochi 12 years ago with his wife Chani to establish a synagogue. In the run-up to the Olympics, he said he received emails from Jews from around the world, anxious to find out where they could eat kosher food and celebrate the Shabbat, or Sabbath.

World Jewish Congress urges Hungary to reconsider WW2 memorial

(A Holocaust memorial of metal shoes fixed to the Danube embankment in memory of Jews executed at the riverside during the wartime occupation. Photo taken on February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo)

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) urged Hungary on Friday to reconsider plans to erect a monument commemorating the German occupation in 1944 and to seek greater dialogue with the country’s Jewish community.

Hungarian Jewish groups say the monument is part of an official drive to obscure the role played by Hungarians in the deportation and murder of the country’s Jews during World War Two.

Bulgaria detains 120 after nationalists, soccer crowd attack mosque

(Bulgarian nationalist supporters and football fans shout slogans during a protest rally in the city of Plovdiv, some 120 km (75 miles) east of Sofia February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer )

Bulgarian police detained more than 120 people on Friday after hundreds of nationalists and soccer fans attacked a mosque in the country’s second city Plovdiv, smashing its windows with stones.

Over 2,000 people had gathered outside a Plovdiv court as it heard an appeal case dealing with the return of an ancient mosque in the central city of Karlovo, taken over by the state more than 100 years ago, to Bulgaria’s Chief Mufti, the Muslim religious authority.

Sign of the times as Russian Olympic athlete shows her Orthodox faith

(Russia’s Elena Nikitina celebrates after competing in the women’s skeleton event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

The sight of a Russian athlete crossing herself before a race was one small example among many of how the country has changed in the generation since it last hosted the Olympic Games.

Elena Nikitina, 21, performed the ritual gesture before setting off in her fourth and final skeleton run at the Sanki sliding centre on Friday evening, where she ended up with the bronze medal.

Pope Francis meets lovers for St. Valentine’s, jokes about mothers-in-law

(A heart-shaped balloon flies as Pope Francis leads a special audience with engaged couples, to celebrate Saint Valentine’s day, in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Signs of affection were as common as signs of the cross in St. Peter’s Square on Friday as couples from around the world attended a special Valentine’s Day gathering with Pope Francis.

Some 25,000 people engaged to be married were invited to the unprecedented event. But as news of the gathering spread, couples of all ages, including many elderly who have been married for decades, flocked to the square.

Belgium surprised at international backlash at euthanasia for minors

(World map showing the countries where euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal)

Belgian media expressed rank incomprehension over foreign criticism of the country’s extension of euthanasia to children, portraying legislation as humane and dismissing any notion of sick children being pressed to their deaths.

Thursday’s vote, the first to extend such provisions to children without any age limit, passed as easily as 2002 legislation allowing euthanasia for adults that had backing from 75 percent of Belgians. It created only minor ripples of dissent in the country, but a wave of interest and fury abroad.

“Belgium has allowed the killing on demand of terminally ill children and has headed for the ethical abyss. A state which allows something like this is a failing state,” the conservative German daily Die Welt said in a column.

from Photographers' Blog:

In a spiral of violence

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Bangui, Central African Republic

By Siegfried Modola

I landed in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, for what was going to be the most intense four weeks of my career. I would be covering a sectarian conflict that has left thousands dead and around a million people displaced.

Nothing could have prepared me for the extent of this crisis. I witnessed the cold reality of people fleeing, losing their belongings and being killed because they belonged to a certain religion and found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As soon as we touched the runway at Bangui’s Mpoko International Airport, it was obvious that something was wrong. From the windows of the plane, we had a view of plastic sheets set up as shelters by the United Nations Refugee Agency – an image synonymous with conflict around the world.

North Caucasus Islamist group prays for earthquake at Sochi Olympics

(The Olympic flame is seen after the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

A militant Islamist group has urged followers to pray for an earthquake in Sochi during the Winter Olympics to avenge Muslims who died there fighting “Russian infidels”.

The appeal was made by a local branch of the Caucasus Emirate, a group which is waging an insurgency for an Islamist state in Russia’s North Caucasus and called on supporters last year to attack the Games.