FaithWorld

Sri Lankan hardline Buddhists say Facebook accounts blocked after violence

(Muslims stand next to a burnt shop after a clash between Buddhists and Muslims in Aluthgama June 16, 2014. At least three Muslims were killed and 75 people seriously injured in violence between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Sri Lankan coastal towns best known as tourist draws, with Muslim homes set ablaze, officials and residents said on Monday. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

(Muslims stand next to a burnt shop after a clash between Buddhists and Muslims in Aluthgama June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

Buddhist activists accused of involvement in violence against Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims said on Friday that accounts of their group’s members on social media site Facebook had been blocked.

Clashes erupted on June 15 in Aluthgama and Beruwela, two towns with large Muslim populations on the island’s southern coast, during a protest march led by the hardline group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or “Buddhist Power Force”.

Many residents of the towns, thronged by tourists, said BBS activists had made inflammatory statements against Muslims at a rally before the violence. Much of the coast is dominated by Sri Lanka’s majority Buddhist Sinhalese community.

The group denies any connection with the incidents, in which three people died and 75 were injured.

Vatican orders Catholic archbishop accused of sex abuse to be defrocked

(Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, offers mass in Santo Domingo August 3, 2009. The Vatican has recalled Wesolowski, who has been in the Dominican Republic for nearly six years, and relieved him of his duties pending an investigation, after local media accused him of paedophilia, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on September 4, 2013. Picture taken August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Luis Gomez/Diario Libre )

(Archbishop Josef Wesolowski celebrates mass in Santo Domingo August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Luis Gomez/Diario Libre )

Roman Catholic Church authorities have ordered a Polish archbishop accused of sexual abuse in the Dominican Republic to be defrocked as a priest pending further criminal proceedings, the Vatican said on Friday.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered Josef Wesolowski, a former Vatican nuncio or ambassador to the Caribbean nation to be stripped of the priesthood.

Gays and their children should not suffer Church bias, Vatican document says

(Members of a gay activist group hold signs in front of St. Peter's square in the Vatican December 16, 2012. A group of demonstrators protesting against the Roman Catholic Church's stance on homosexual marriage tried to enter St Peter's Square in the Vatican on Sunday as Pope Benedict was giving his weekly address to pilgrims. The protesters - who were kept out of the square by police - were upset over a speech by the pontiff on Friday in which he appeared to include efforts to legalise gay marriage among the threats to peace in the world. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

(Members of a gay activist group hold signs in front of St. Peter’s square in the Vatican December 16, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

The Roman Catholic Church must be less judgmental of homosexuals and, while still opposing gay marriage, should welcome children of gay couples into the faith with equal dignity, a Vatican document said on Thursday.

A 75-page document, a working paper for the synod of Catholic bishops planned for the Vatican in October to discuss family issues, also said the 1.2 billion member Church should become less exclusive and more humble.

Britain bans Saudi cleric who supports jihad in Syria

(Iraqi security forces display vehicles, weapons and ammunition confiscated from the Sunni militant group 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) in Samarra, June 6, 2014. Iraqi helicopters bombed the city of Samarra after insurgents overran parts of it early on Thursday, bringing them within striking distance of a Shi'ite shrine the destruction of which in a 2006 attack unleashed a bitter sectarian war. The offensive is part of an escalating conflict between Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim-led government and Sunni Islamist militants who have been regaining momentum in the past year, particularly in the west of the country bordering Syria. REUTERS/Stringer )

(Iraqi security forces display vehicles, weapons and ammunition confiscated from the Sunni militant group ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) in Samarra, June 6, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer )

Britain has banned Mohammed al-Arifi, a conservative Sunni Muslim cleric from Saudi Arabia with over 9 million Twitter followers, as it tries to deter young Muslims from going to join Islamic militants in Syria.

Arifi, who has called for jihad against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, has visited Britain several times. British newspapers said this week he had preached in a Cardiff mosque attended by three young Muslims who have traveled to Syria to fight.

Three European courts grapple with end-of-life dilemmas

(Marie-Genevieve Lambert (L), the half sister, and Francois Lambert (R), the nephew of Vincent Lambert, who is tetraplegic and currently on artificial life support, leaves the court after the verdict in a judicial case at the Council of State (Conseil d'Etat) in Paris, June 24, 2014. France's top administrative court ruled on Tuesday that doctors should be allowed to take a tetraplegic man off life support after nearly six years in a coma, siding with his wife in a case that has revived a debate about euthanasia. The Council of State ruled that doctors had the right to end the medical support that has kept Vincent Lambert, brain-damaged and in vegetative state, artificially alive since a motorbike accident on the way to work plunged him into a coma in September 2008. The verdict follows a heart-rending battle between Lambert's wife Rachel, seeking to let the former psychiatric nurse die, and his parents, who took legal action last year to halt plans by his doctors to do that. REUTERS/John Schults)

(Marie-Genevieve Lambert (L), the half sister, and Francois Lambert (R), the nephew of Vincent Lambert, who is tetraplegic and currently on artificial life support, leaves the court after the verdict in a judicial case at the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) in Paris, June 24, 2014. REUTERS/John Schults)

Three European courts stepped carefully around delicate end-of-life issues on Wednesday, with one rejecting assisted suicide, another delaying it and a third acquitting a doctor from charges he murdered dying patients.

The varied rulings by Britain’s Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights and a regional French court reflected the difficulty of drawing a clear legal line between aiding terminal patients to die in peace and committing murder.

Sudan summons U.S., South Sudan envoys in row over Christian convert

(St. Matthew's Cathedral, Khartoum)

(St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Khartoum, 5 October 2013/Shmyg)

Sudan has summoned the U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors over the new detention of a Christian convert who was trying to fly to the United States with her family after being released from death row, the state’s top security service said on Wednesday.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim was freed on Monday after an appeals court canceled the death sentence imposed for having converted from Islam to marry her Christian husband, after the government came under what it called unprecedented international pressure.

But she was detained again on Tuesday for trying to use documents issued by the embassy of South Sudan to fly out of Khartoum with her American-South Sudanese husband and their two children – deepening the diplomatic wrangle over her case.

India’s Hindu holy men to advise on Modi’s Ganges river cleanup

(An Indian Hindu takes a dip in the polluted waters of river Ganges in the northern Indian city of Allahabad June 5, 2005. The devastating impact of mankind on the planet is dramatically illustrated in pictures in the "One Planet, Many People" atlas published on Saturday showing explosive urban sprawl, major deforestation and the sucking dry of inland seas over less than three decades. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash )

(An Indian Hindu takes a dip in the polluted waters of river Ganges in the northern Indian city of Allahabad June 5, 2005. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash )

India’s new government will seek the advice of Hindu holy men on how best to carry out an ambitious plan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clean up the Ganges, a river that is sacred to the majority Hindu population.

Hindus bathe in the Ganges in an act of ritual purification, yet the 2,500 km (1,600 mile) river stretching from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal is full of industrial effluent and untreated sewage, its banks strewn with garbage.

Wear white to protest Singapore pink gay rally, religious groups say

(Participants dressed in pink enjoy a picnic before taking part in the forming of a giant pink dot at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 29, 2013. About 21,000 people took part in the Pink Dot Sg event to promote an acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore, the organizer said. REUTERS/Edgar Su )

(Participants dressed in pink enjoy a picnic before taking part in the forming of a giant pink dot at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 29, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su )

Some Christians have joined Muslims in Singapore urging followers to wear white this weekend in protest at the sixth annual “Pink Dot” gay rights rally, which attracted a record 21,000 people last year.

Singapore is seeing growing anger over issues ranging from immigration and rising living costs to gay rights – all in a country where dissent is actively discouraged and political gatherings require a permit regardless of how many people are involved.

UPDATE – Sudan re-arrests Christian woman one day after release from death row

(St. Matthew's Cathedral, Khartoum)

(St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Khartoum, 5 October 2013/Shmyg)

UPDATE ON TUESDAY -

Sudanese authorities re-arrested a Sudanese woman on Tuesday hours after she was freed from death row, and detained her and her family as they tried to board a plane in Khartoum, a security source and her lawyer said.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, sentenced to death last month for converting to Christianity from Islam, was released on Monday after what the government said was unprecedented international pressure.

The security official said he did know the reason for the re-arrest. One of Ibrahim’s lawyers said she was being held at a security building outside the airport with her husband and two children.

Influential Muslim cleric calls for Sunni-Shi’ite dialogue in Iraq

(Egyptian Cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, gives a speech during Friday prayers, before a protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, at Al Azhar mosque in old Cairo December 28, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

(Egyptian Cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, gives a speech during Friday prayers at Al Azhar mosque in old Cairo December 28, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

An influential Sunni Muslim cleric said on Monday that only dialogue could solve Iraq’s crisis, sounding a conciliatory note on the threat posed by Sunni Islamist insurgents that could further polarise the Middle East along sectarian lines.

Fighters from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have seized a swathe of northern Iraqi towns, as well as border posts with Syria, in a thrust towards Baghdad, stunning the country’s Shi’ite Muslim-led central government.