FaithWorld

Pakistani Islam students set Hindu temple ablaze over blasphemy rumour

A Hindu temple burns after it was attacked in Larkana, southern Pakistan’s Sindh province, March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Faheem Soormro

Hundreds of angry Pakistanis attacked a Hindu temple and set it on fire in southern Pakistan overnight following a rumour that a member of the Hindu community had desecrated the Koran, police and community leaders said on Sunday.

The incident took place just before midnight on Saturday after locals in Larkana district alleged that Sangeet Kumar, 42, had torn out pages of Islam’s holy book and tossed them down on the street from the roof of his home.

“Our Dharamshala (community centre) has been gutted and the temple has been partially damaged. All the statues have been destroyed by the attackers,” Kalpana Devi, chairperson of the local Hindu committee, told Reuters.

Hundreds of students from local Islamic seminaries attacked the temple holding batons, one witness, Javed Shah, said. Police arrived quickly to protect Kumar from the angry crowd.

Reconstruction of Timbuktu’s destroyed tombs begins in Mali

A UN peacekeeper from Burkina Faso stands guard at the Djinguereber mosque, built in the 14th century, in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney

Malian masons have begun rebuilding mausoleums in the historic city of Timbuktu destroyed by Islamists during their occupation of the country’s north, the United Nations said.

The earthen tombs of saints, located in the UNESCO listed desert city, were destroyed in July 2012 by militants who considered the local Sufi version of Islam to be idolatrous.

Vatican, Church of England and al-Azhar join forces to combat modern slavery

Australia mining tycoon Andrew Forrest (L) shakes hands with Mahmoud Azab, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar’s advisor for dialogue, during a news conference at the Vatican, March 17, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The Roman Catholic Church, Church of England and al-Azhar, the Cairo-based seat of Sunni Muslim learning, came together on Monday for a rare display of interfaith action among them in calling for an end to modern slavery within 20 years.

Their joint statement setting up the “Global Freedom Network” they declared that “physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children” trapped 30 million people worldwide in slavery.

Israel cuts army exemption granted to ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who study Torah for life

(Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men study at Jerusalem’s Mir Yeshiva, the largest Jewish seminary in Israel July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Israel’s parliament on Wednesday approved a contentious law that abolishes blanket military exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students, ending a tradition upheld since the state’s foundation.

Finalised after months of political wrangling and likely to spark ultra-Orthodox rage, the legislation will be implemented fully in 2017 and limit the annual number of ultra-Orthodox men excused from compulsory military service to 1,800 granted “gifted scholar” status.

Ultra-Orthodox mayor wins vote in Beit Shemesh, an Israeli town torn by religion

(Campaign billboards for the  municipal election in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem March 6, 2014. When residents of this Israeli town go to the ballots on Tuesday, they may decide more than a bitterly contested mayoral race. Many see the vote as a bellwether for the strained secular-religious ties in the Jewish state. Picture taken March 6, 2014. To match story ISRAEL-ULTRAORTHODOX/ REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

A bitter mayoral race in a town that has become a symbol of religious and political divisions in Israel ended on Wednesday with the victory of its ultra-Orthodox Jewish incumbent over his secular challenger.

Moshe Abutbul won the re-vote in Beit Shemesh, a town near Jerusalem that has become a focus of national attention in the Jewish state where secular-religious tensions often flare.

Timeline: The first year of the papacy of Francis

(Pope Francis on the flight to Rome from Brazil where he made his “who am I to judge?” comment, July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Luca Zennaro/Pool)

Below is a timeline of the major events since then and the key decisions he has made.

March 14: On the morning after his election, the pope makes a surprise visit to the Rome hotel for clerics where he was staying before his election and pays the bill.

Most memorable quotes of Pope Francis from his first year

(Newly elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina appears on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after being elected by the conclave of cardinals, at the Vatican, March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez )

Thursday marks the first anniversary of the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years.

Below are some memorable quotes from the pontiff, arranged in chronological order.

In Vatican shake-up, Pope Francis redefines the role of his second-in-command

(Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic palace in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 9, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi )

When he was elected a year ago, Pope Francis promised to shake up the bureaucracy of the world’s smallest country. He has started at the top – curbing the once-overarching role of the secretary of state.

The cardinal who oversees the Vatican’s relations with other countries has served as the top ranking official in the Holy See’s bureaucracy since the 17th century. And in recent decades the office accumulated increasing authority over finances and job hires, taking on roles analogous to prime minister and chief of staff in the papal court, as well as that of top diplomat.

Czech Catholic priest Tomas Halik wins $1.83 million Templeton Prize

(Czech priest Tomas Halik smiles after being awarded the 2014 Templeton Prize in London March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Olivia Harris )

A Czech Catholic priest whose theology of paradox invites believers and atheists to dialogue has won the 2014 Templeton Prize, worth $1.83 million, for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life.

Tomas Halik, who worked underground to promote democracy and morality before communism fell in Czechoslovakia in 1989, has “continuously opened vistas that advance humankind,” the U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation said on Thursday in announcing the prize.

German Catholic bishops pick pope aide Cardinal Marx as their new leader

(German Cardinal Reinhard Marx at the Vatican March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi)

Germany’s Catholic bishops elected Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx their new leader on Wednesday, picking a close associate of Pope Francis already working on Vatican reform to also guide them at home.

Marx’s election in Germany, one of the richest and most influential national churches in the 1.2-billion-strong Roman Catholic world, enhanced his status among the men the pope has called on to help him revitalize the Catholic Church.

Known in Germany as a spokesman for social and economic justice, he gave his 2008 book on a just world economy the title “Das Kapital” in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the magnum opus of Karl Marx, the German founder of communism.