FaithWorld

Iraqi slaughter swells crowded Shi’ite cemetery in holy city Najaf

(Mourners carry the coffin of Salah al-Wa'ili, a fighter from the Iraqi Shi'ite group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, during his funeral in Najaf July 12, 2014. Responding to an appeal from Shi'ite clerics, Wa'ili signed up earlier this month with the militia near Baghdad fighting the Islamist insurgents who have swept through northern Iraq and threatened the capital. A week later the 27-year-old part-time fighter was dead. Killed in battle against Sunni militants near the western city of Ramadi on Friday, he joined the growing list of casualties from the latest wave of conflict to strike Iraq, which has been plagued by war, sanctions and sectarian strife for longer than Wa'ili's brief lifetime. Picture taken July 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani )

(Mourners carry the coffin of Salah al-Wa’ili, a fighter from the Iraqi Shi’ite group Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, during his funeral in Najaf July 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani )

Responding to an appeal from Shi’ite clerics, Salah al-Wa’ili signed up earlier this month with a militia near Baghdad fighting the Islamist insurgents who have swept through northern Iraq and threatened the capital.

A week later the 27-year-old part-time fighter was dead.

Killed in battle against Sunni militants near the western city of Ramadi on Friday, he joined the growing list of casualties from the latest wave of conflict to strike Iraq, which has been plaged by war, sanctions and sectarian strife for longer than Wa’ili’s brief lifetime.

For relatives who buried him on Friday in the sprawling and ever more crowded cemetery known as the ‘Valley of Peace’, outside the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf, grief was mixed with a bleak familiarity.

Salah was laid to rest in a family plot next to the graves of three generations of relatives killed in conflict and internal unrest stretching back to the year he was born, when Iraq was fighting Iran.

Pope Francis says about two percent of Catholic priests are pedophiles: paper

(Pope Francis signs an autographs on one of his books given by a faithful, as he arrives to lead a prayer in Isernia, south of Italy, July 5, 2014. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca)

(Pope Francis signs an autographs on one of his books as he arrives to lead a prayer in Isernia, south of Italy, July 5, 2014. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca)

About two percent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, an Italian newspaper on Sunday quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.

But the Vatican issued a statement saying some parts of a long article in the left-leaning La Repubblica were not accurate, including one that quoted the pope as saying that there were cardinals among the abusers.

Head of Church of England hopeful vote will back women bishops

(The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during a press conference at Lambeth Palace in London February 20, 2014. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gave his backing on Thursday to a campaign by both Anglican and Catholic bishops opposing the Conservative-led government's welfare cuts. REUTERS/Neil Hall ()

(The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during a press conference at Lambeth Palace in London February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall)

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was hopeful that the Church of England’s governing body would approve women bishops when it votes on the issue this week.

Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, said the general public would find it “almost incomprehensible” should the General Synod fail to support the move on Monday.

In Malaysia, Islam’s legal advance divides families and nation

(Deepa Subramaniam, 30, speaks during an interview in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur July 3, 2014. Subramaniam's estranged spouse converted from Hinduism to Islam in 2012, after their nine-year marriage broke down, taking the name Izwan Abdullah. He then converted their children to Islam, giving him a strong case under Islamic law, or shariah, to take over their custody - which a shariah court granted him five months later. Subramaniam fought back, last year obtaining a court protection order based on her accounts of domestic violence and in April winning a high court ruling that dissolved their marriage and gave her custody of the children. Two days later Izwan took their son Mithran from outside her home in the town of Seremban, 60 km (37 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur. In Subramaniam's custody battle, and another similar case, Malaysia's national police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, has declined to act on judges' orders for children to be returned to their mothers, citing competing orders from the civil courts and state shariah courts. His stance has been backed by the home minister. Picture taken July 3, 2014. To match Feature MALAYSIA-ISLAM/ REUTERS/Samsul Said )

(Deepa Subramaniam, 30, speaks during an interview in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur July 3, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said )

Deepa Subramaniam would not let go of her son, clinging to five-year-old Mithran’s leg even as the car into which he had been bundled began to accelerate.

The 30-year-old, a Hindu in Muslim-majority Malaysia, says she was dragged along the stone-strewn road outside her house until she dropped to the ground, scratched and sobbing, as her ex-husband drove off.

Vatican makes “new generation” cardinal head of key German archdiocese

(German Cardinal Rainer Woelki waves as he arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 5, 2013. Catholic cardinals in a closed-door meeting ahead of the election of a new pontiff want to be briefed on a secret report into leaks about alleged corruption and mismanagement in the Vatican, a senior source said on Monday. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

(German Cardinal Rainer Woelki waves as he arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

The Vatican has appointed the archbishop of Berlin, seen by German media as part of a “new generation” of less dogmatic clergy, to take over the Cologne archdiocese, the largest and richest in Germany, it said on Friday.

The move makes Rainer Maria Woelki, who turns 58 next month, one of the most influential Roman Catholic cardinals and is an indication of the type of person Pope Francis wants to see in prominent Church roles.

A game of two popes: Vatican plays down talk of World Cup rivalry

(Pope Francis (L) prays with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI after arriving at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence, south of Rome March 23, 2013. Pope Francis travelled by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo for a private meeting with former Pope Benedict XVI. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano )

(Pope Francis (L) prays with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo March 23, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano )

With Argentina meeting Germany in the World Cup final, the Vatican on Friday brushed aside talk of soccer rivalry between Argentine Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict, a German.

In response to the intense media speculation about whether they would watch the game together, which it called “amusing”, the Vatican called on soccer fans to observe a “pause for peace” before Sunday’s final to remember victims of war and poverty.

Poland asks: should a doctor serve God, or patients?

(Professor Bogdan Chazan smiles as he speaks to the media among his supporters in front of a maternity hospital in Warsaw June 13, 2014. In April this year, a pregnant woman asked Chazan, director of Warsaw's Holy Family Hospital, for an abortion because her own physician had diagnosed her unborn child with grave health problems. Chazan sent the woman a letter saying he could not agree to an abortion in his hospital because of a "conflict of conscience," and instead gave the woman the address of a hospice where, he said, the child could get palliative care once born. Picture taken on June 13, 2014. To match story POLAND-ABORTION/ REUTERS/Jacek Marczewskii/Agencja Gazeta)

(Professor Bogdan Chazan smiles as he speaks to the media among his supporters in front of a maternity hospital in Warsaw June 13, 2014.REUTERS/Jacek Marczewskii/Agencja Gazeta)

In April this year, a pregnant woman asked Professor Bogdan Chazan, director of Warsaw’s Holy Family Hospital, for an abortion because her own physician had diagnosed her unborn child with grave health problems.

Chazan sent the woman a letter saying he could not agree to an abortion in his hospital because of a “conflict of conscience,” and instead gave the woman the address of a hospice where, he said, the child could get palliative care once born.

Iraqi Christians’ flee violence and fear end of long history

(Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako (L), the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, gives communion to Iraqi Christians during Mass at John Baptist De La Salle Church in Amman May 23, 2014. Cardinal Sako led a Mass attended by hundreds of Iraqi Christians who are in Jordan ahead of a visit by Pope Francis on Saturday.REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed )

(Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako (L), the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, gives communion to Iraqi Christians during Mass at John Baptist De La Salle Church in Amman May 23, 2014. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed )

The violence in Iraq is hastening the end of nearly 2,000 years of Christianity there as the few remaining faithful flee Islamic State militants, archbishops from Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk said on Wednesday.

War and sectarian conflict have shrunk Iraq’s Christian population to about 400,000 from 1.5 million before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and now even those who stayed are leaving for Turkey, Lebanon and western Europe, the prelates said on a visit to Brussels seeking European Union help to protect their flocks.

Pope Francis shows mega-banks how to do it

(Jean-Baptise de Franssu (L), new president of Vatican Bank IOR, outgoing President Ernst Von Freyberg (R) and Cardinal George Pell leave at the end of a news conference at the Vatican July 9, 2014. The Vatican said on Wednesday it will separate its bank's investment business from its Church payments work to try to clean up after years of scandal including allegations of money laundering and tax evasion. French businessman Franssu was named as the new head of the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), succeeding German lawyer Freyberg, who has run the bank since February 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

(Jean-Baptise de Franssu (L), new president of Vatican Bank IOR, outgoing President Ernst Von Freyberg (R) and Cardinal George Pell leave at the end of a news conference at the Vatican July 9, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile ) The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

By Edward Hadas

Confessing one’s sins is relatively easy. Penance can be painful, but usually ends fast. Leading a better life, though, is a lot more difficult. Pope Francis is ensuring that the Vatican’s financial system is well on the way. And by doing so he is also schooling Wall Street on how to clean house.

from The Great Debate:

What’s the 2014 election really about? Religious vs. women’s rights

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for the "Not My Boss's Business" rally for women's health and rights in Washington

Religious rights versus women's rights. That's about as fundamental a clash as you can get in U.S. politics. It's now at the core of the 2014 election campaign, with both parties girding for battle.

What generated the showdown was last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The decision instantly became a rallying cry for activists on both the right and left. Congressional Democrats are already proposing a law to nullify the decision. “It's shameful that a woman's access to contraception is even up for debate in 2014,” Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said.   Conservative blogger Erick Erickson crowed, “My religion trumps your ‘right’ to employer-subsidized, consequence-free sex.”

How did the issue become so big so fast? Because it touches some extremely sensitive nerves in the body politic.