FaithWorld

Dutch companies hit by Saudi retaliation for Wilders’ anti-Islam campaign

(Far-right politician Geert Wilders of the anti-immigration Dutch Freedom (PVV) Party speaks at a PVV rally after the European Parliament elections in the Hague May 22, 2014. Europe's election marathon kicks off on Thursday as polls open in Britain and the Netherlands, where far-right, anti-EU parties are forecast to top the ballot, spearheading a surge in protest-voting across the continent. REUTERS/Michael Kooren)

(Far-right politician Geert Wilders of the anti-immigration Dutch Freedom (PVV) Party speaks at a PVV rally after the European Parliament elections in the Hague May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Kooren)

Dutch companies are facing problems doing business in Saudi Arabia after the Saudis imposed sanctions in response to anti-Islamic stickers distributed by populist politician Geert Wilders, the Dutch foreign minister said.

Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans wrote in a letter to parliament on Thursday that Saudi authorities had made clear to Dutch officials that trade restrictions were in place, although there has been no official notification.

“Some companies are experiencing no problems, while others are confronted with trade restrictions,” he said in the letter. The Dutch government was doing all it could to resolve the problem, he said.

Trade between the countries came to nearly $5 billion in 2010 and the Netherlands accounted for nearly 4 percent of foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia that year, the Dutch government said.

U.S. Presbyterian Church approves clergy performing gay weddings

(Gay couple Andrew Wale (R) and Neil Allard hold hold each other as they are interviewed by the media after marrying in the first same-sex wedding at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, southern England March 29, 2014. Saturday will be the first day gay couples will be allowed to tie the knot in England and Wales after the government legalised same-sex marriage last July. Wale and Allard are the first out of five same-sex couples tying the knot in Brighton on Saturday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )

(A gay couple after marrying in the first same-sex wedding at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, southern England March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )

A gathering of U.S. Presbyterian Church elders and ministers voted on Thursday to allow their clergy to perform same-sex weddings, in a major reversal for one of the largest mainline Protestant denominations, a church official said.

The move came during a meeting in Detroit, two years after the Church’s highest judicial body upheld an ecclesiastical rebuke against a lesbian Presbyterian minister for officiating at same-sex weddings in California.

Sainthood closer for U.S. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, an early televangelist

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1952/Library of Congress

(Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1952/Library of Congress)

U.S. Catholic Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the world’s first televangelists, has moved closer to sainthood after a team of theologians agreed a reported miracle should be attributed to his intercession, church officials said.

The miracle attributed to Sheen involved a baby born in September 2010, according to a statement from the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where Sheen once served as a priest.

The baby boy showed no signs of life for an hour after birth as medical professionals tried to revive him, the diocese said. The child’s family sought Sheen’s intercession, and the baby was restored to life, the statement said.

As Myanmar’s Rakhine Buddhists gain strength, so does anti-Muslim apartheid

(Displaced Rohingya woman Norbagoun carries her severely malnourished 25-day-old twins in her lap in their house at the Dar Paing camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, April 24, 2014. Restrictions on international aid have exacerbated a growing health crisis among stateless Muslim Rohingya in west Myanmar. In February, Myanmar's government expelled the main aid group providing health to more than half a million Rohingya, Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland (MSF-H), after the organisation said it had treated people believed to have been victims of violence in southern Maungdaw township in January. The United Nations says at least 40 Rohingya were killed there by Buddhist Rakhine villagers. The government denies any killings occurred. An attack in March on NGO and U.N. offices by a Rakhine mob led to the withdrawal of other groups providing healthcare and other essential aid to another 140,000 Rohingya living in camps. Picture taken April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Minzayar)

(Displaced Rohingya woman Norbagoun carries her severely malnourished 25-day-old twins in her lap in their house at the Dar Paing camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Minzayar)

A campaign to isolate Muslims living under apartheid-like conditions is gathering steam in western Myanmar, driven by Buddhist activists emboldened by the country’s transition from military rule.

Religious violence since 2012 has killed hundreds of Rohingya Muslims and displaced more than 140,000 in Rakhine State. Survivors live as virtual prisoners in camps or in segregated villages, subject to restrictions on travel, and, in some areas, marriage and the number of babies they can have.

Iran says will not hesitate to defend Iraq’s Shi’ite holy sites

(Shi'ite Muslims attend a religious ritual at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

(Shi’ite Muslims attend a religious ritual at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

Iran will not hesitate to defend Shi’ite Muslim holy sites in neighbouring Iraq against “killers and terrorists”, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, following rapid advances by Sunni militants there over the past week.

Speaking on live television, Rouhani said many people had signed up to go to Iraq to defend the sites and “put the terrorists in their place”. He added that veteran fighters from Iraq’s Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish communities were also “ready for sacrifice” against these militant forces.

French imams, prison chaplains seek ways to combat Islamist radicalisation

(A family lights candles at the Jewish Museum, site of a shooting in central Brussels May 25, 2014. Belgian police were hunting on Sunday for an assailant who shot dead three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and French authorities tightened security at Jewish sites following another attack that prompted fears of a rise in anti-Semitism. REUTERS/Eric Vidal )

(A family lights candles at the Jewish Museum, site of a shooting in central Brussels May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Vidal )

Islamic prayer leaders and prison chaplains in France, jolted by a French Islamist’s killing spree at the Brussels Jewish Museum, have begun discussing ways to better fight the radicalisation of young Muslims here.

About 30 imams from southeastern France, meeting in Avignon on Wednesday, said action was urgently needed because about 300 young French Muslims are reported to have left their region to fight alongside jihadist forces in Syria.

Israelis sway in hopeful prayer for missing teens

(Israelis take part in a mass prayer at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City, for the return of three teenagers who were abducted June 15, 2014. Israel said on Sunday that Hamas militants had abducted three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank, warning of "serious consequences" as it pressed on with a search and detained dozens of Palestinians. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

(Israelis take part in a mass prayer at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem’s Old City, for the return of three teenagers who were abducted June 15, 2014. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Seated at a table beneath a blazing sun, Orthodox Jewish young men swayed in prayer on Wednesday for the safe return of three teens whose disappearance Israel blames on Hamas Islamists.

“The idea here is to unite and pray that with God’s help we will get good news,” Liad Oryan, 34, tells a reporter, after shutting a book of psalms as he completed his course of worship.

U.S. nuns sue disruptive strip club near their Chicago-area convent

(A general view of the city of Chicago, March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young)

(A general view of the city of Chicago, March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young)

A group of Chicago-area nuns is suing a strip club behind their convent, complaining of noise, glaring neon lights, fist fights and heaps of litter that include empty whiskey bottles and used condoms.

The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo said Illinois mandates a 1,000-foot (300-meter) buffer zone between adult entertainment venues and places of worship or schools. The suit, filed on Friday in Cook County, also names the village of Stone Park, where the strip club is located.

The $3 million Club Allure opened last September across the back fence of the convent, which has three chapels, a home for retired sisters, and a house for young women thinking about becoming nuns, the nuns’ lawyers said.

U.S. agency urges Myanmar to scrap proposed restrictive religion laws

(isitors walk around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom )

(Visitors walk around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom )

Draft laws in Myanmar aimed at protecting the country’s majority Buddhist identity by regulating religious conversions and marriages between people of different faiths have “no place in the 21st century” and should be withdrawn, a U.S. government agency has said.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said the laws risked stoking violence against Muslims and other religious minorities, including Christians. If the laws are passed, it said, Washington “should factor these negative developments into its evolving relationship with Burma (Myanmar).”

Cuba’s Catholic Church may restrict rare forum for open debate

(Police stand in the shade near Havana's 18th century Cathedral June 14, 2010. Vatican Foreign Minister Dominque Mamberti will visit Cuba this week at a time when the Catholic church is flexing its political muscle and calling for change on the communist-led island. His five-day visit, which starts on Tuesday, follows the release of one of Cuba's estimated 190 political prisoners and the transfer of 12 others to jails closer to their homes in moves requested by church leaders. A mass will be celebrated at the cathedral during Mamberti's visit. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

(Police stand in the shade near Havana’s 18th century Cathedral June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

The resignation of two editors of an outspoken Roman Catholic Church magazine in Cuba threatens to stall what had been a thriving political dialogue inside Cuba and a rare forum to challenge the ruling Communist Party publicly.

The former editors of Espacio Laical magazine, Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez, used the Internet to promote debate on political issues such as the need for a multiparty system, internet expansion, reintegration with the diaspora and the strengths and weaknesses of reforms under President Raul Castro.