FaithWorld

German bishops tell Vatican: Catholics reject sexual morality rules

(Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (R), head of the German Bishops’ Conference, speaks during a news conference in Vatican October 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Germany’s Catholic bishops, responding to a worldwide Vatican survey, said on Monday that many Church teachings on sexual morality were either unknown to the faithful there or rejected as unrealistic and heartless.

They said the survey, drawn up for a synod on possible reforms in October, showed most German Catholics disputed Church bans on birth control and premarital or gay sex and criticized rules barring the divorced from remarriage in church.

The results will not be news to many Catholics, especially in affluent Western countries, but the blunt official admission of this wide gap between policy and practice is uncommon and bound to raise pressure on Pope Francis to introduce reforms.

Bishops in Germany, one of the richest and most influential national churches in the 1.2-billion-strong Catholic world, have been pressing the Vatican to reform, especially over divorce.

Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of Holocaust commemoration over anti-Semitism

(A boat sails past a memorial on the banks of the Danube river in Budapest January 27, 2006, symbolizing shoes of Hungarian Jews who were shot at the riverside during World War II. International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is being marked around the world today. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh)

Hungarian Jewish leaders said on Tuesday they may stay away from commemorations of the Holocaust in 2014 because of resurgent anti-Semitism in a nation that has struggled to come to terms with a wartime role in deporting Jews.

The Hungarian government is planning to mark the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks. In total, about half a million Jews perished before the Budapest ghetto was liberated in 1945.

Pope’s choice of new Catholic cardinals puts emphasis on the poor

(Faithful watch a maxi screen as Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Pope Francis put his first stamp on the group at the top of the Roman Catholic hierarchy on Sunday, naming 19 new cardinals from around the world and emphasizing his concern for poor countries.

Sixteen of them are “cardinal electors” under 80 and thus eligible to enter a conclave to elect a pope. They come from Italy, Germany, Britain, Nicaragua, Canada, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Chile, Burkina Faso, the Philippines and Haiti.

Pope Francis to set up special committee on child sex abuse by priests

(Workers erect a Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican December 5, 2013. This year’s Christmas tree to decorate St Peter’s Square comes from Bavaria in Germany, and is 25 meters tall and weighs 7.2 tons. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

Pope Francis is to set up a special committee to help protect children against sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, the archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, said on Thursday.

The move is Francis’ first major step to address the crisis that has discredited the church, in the face of charges the Vatican has not done enough to protect children or make amends.

German bishops push reform to welcome divorced and remarried Catholics

(Stuttgart’s Catholic Bishop Gebhard Fürst, seen here at a memorial service for victims of a school shooting, on March 21, 2009. REUTERS/Bernd Weissbrod)

Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops plan to push ahead with proposed reforms to reinstate divorced and remarried parishioners despite a warning from the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, according to a senior cleric.

Stuttgart Bishop Gebhard Fürst told a meeting of lay Catholics at the weekend that the bishops had already drafted reform guidelines and aimed to approve them at their next plenary meeting in March.

German “luxury bishop” settles with court over 1st class flight-to-poverty case

(Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst makes his inaugural address during a service of worship in Limburg Cathedral January 20, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Radtke/KNA-Bild)

A German court has dropped for the time being an investigation into a Roman Catholic prelate known as the “luxury bishop” over accusations he lied under oath about taking a first-class flight to visit poverty projects in India.

State prosecutors had sought to have Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg fined for making false affidavits about the flight, but the court accepted a 20,000-euro settlement.

Dutch self-image shaken by “Black Pete” debate

(A woman dressed as “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete), the helper of Saint Nicholas (C), takes part in a traditional parade in central Brussels, where the Dutch Christmas tradition is also observed. December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

The Dutch see themselves as tolerant pragmatists, especially adaptable if social harmony or commercial interests demand it.

But that self-image has taken a battering in recent weeks as a growing chorus of voices inside and outside the country protest against a Christmas tradition that many Dutch see as harmless fun but critics say is racist.

Pope Francis meeting with Putin could help mend Catholic-Orthodox relations

(Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill attend a meeting with Russian Orthodox church bishops in Moscow February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Gunyeev/Ria Novosti/Pool)

Pope Francis will receive Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 25, an encounter that could help mend strained relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russian-Vatican relations have been fraught since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, with Moscow accusing the Roman Catholic Church of trying to poach believers from the Russian Orthodox Church, a charge the Vatican denies.

Mystery of Gestapo chief’s fate is solved … and it shocks German Jews

(A Star of David is pictured on a fence at Grosse Hamburger Strasse Jewish cemetery in Berlin, October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch )

Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, the most senior Nazi whose fate has until now remained unknown, died in Berlin in 1945 and, in a chilling twist for an organiser of the Holocaust, lies in a Jewish cemetery, a German historian says.

Müller, who ran the Gestapo secret police before and during World War Two, was last spotted in Adolf Hitler’s bunker in Berlin the day after the Nazi leader committed suicide in 1945.

Finance scandal spurs German Catholic bishops to reveal secret funds

(Cologne cathedral and the Hohenzollern train bridge over the Rhine river in this October 16, 2005 picture. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/)

German Catholic bishops are scrapping centuries of secrecy and reporting the value of their private endowments as a scandal caused by a free-spending prelate puts pressure on them for more financial transparency.

Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst – dubbed “the luxury bishop” – has shocked the Church by admitting six-fold cost overruns on construction of his luxurious new residence, which is now priced at 31 million euros, most of which will be paid from his ample reserves.