Pope and Irish Catholic Church to hold summit on child abuse by clergy

December 7, 2009

abuse (Photo: Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern while discussing abuse report with journalists, 26 Nov 2009/Cathal McNaughton)

Ireland’s top Roman Catholic leaders will hold talks with Pope Benedict this week to formulate the Vatican’s response to an Irish government report on a 30-year cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests.

Bishop of Arabia dismayed by minaret ban in Swiss homeland

December 3, 2009

minarets-trainMany supporters of the Swiss ban on minarets justified it with the argument that limitations on mosques in Europe were permissible because Christians can’t build churches in some Muslim countries. This was also a recurring theme in comments to FaithWorld (see here and here). But doesn’t this tit-for-tat approach simply provide further arguments for Muslim authorities who don’ t want to concede more religious freedom to their Christian minorities?

Vatican rebukes prelate denying heaven to gays and transsexuals

December 3, 2009

barraganA Roman Catholic Cardinal has told homosexuals and transsexuals  they would never get into heaven, prompting a rebuke from the Vatican itself.

Irish Catholics damage eyes staring at sun for Virgin Mary

December 2, 2009

irish-crossIrish Catholic pilgrims have suffered eye damage after staring at the sun in the hope of witnessing an apparition of the Virgin Mary, a doctor said on Wednesday. On one occasion in October, some 10,000 people gathered at the Knock shrine in northwestern Ireland hoping to see Mary, despite pleas from an archbishop to ignore invitations to the event by a self-proclaimed spiritual healer.

In abuse by Irish priests, a little “mental reservation”

November 29, 2009

irish-countrysideIt was a ride and I was hitchhiking around Ireland and the driver of a tiny Morris Minor who’d stopped was a priest, so what could be wrong?

Spanish RC Church to deny communion to pro-abortion pols

November 27, 2009

abortion-spainThe Spanish Catholic Church will deny communion to members of parliament who have voted in favour of a bill to make abortion more readily available, the spokesman of Spain’s Bishops’ Conference said on Friday.

Catholic schools form rare oasis amid Bosnia’s ethnic strife

November 25, 2009

daria1I was caught by surprise recently when a Western diplomat told me that Serb students were in majority in the Catholic high school in Banja Luka,  a town that had become predominantly Serb after persecution of other ethnic groups during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Banja Luka is the largest town of the Serb Republic, which along with the Muslim-Croat federation makes up postwar Bosnia .

Ireland braces for another Catholic clergy sex abuse report

November 24, 2009

irish-reportA damning report on sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Dublin is due out later this week, only six months after another report on abuse in industrial and reformatory schools across the country accused priests and nuns of flogging, starving and, in some cases, raping children in their care.

Searching for clues from the Roman Catholic-Anglican summit

November 23, 2009

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There wasn’t much information in the official communique after Pope Benedict and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams met at the Vatican on Saturday. The terse text mentioned “cordial discussions” about challenges facing Christians, the need to cooperate and their intention to continue bilateral theological dialogue. The only reference to the issue of the day, Benedict’s offer to take alienated Anglicans into the Catholic Church, was mentioned in passing as “recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.” Hmm, pretty thin pickings….
The Pravda-like opaqueness of the communique (read it here) prompted me to zoom in on the photographs we got from the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano for any other clues there. Let’s see if they help as we go along. The “pope’s paper” (here in PDF) published the communique at the bottom of its front page, below two articles on the pope’s meeting with artists and one on Iran’s nuclear program. An interesting hint at the Vatican’s priorities that day.

Does Europe’s new prez really think it’s a Christian club?

November 20, 2009

rompuy1Europe’s new president, Herman Van Rompuy, is little known outside his native Belgium. One of the few background facts about him circulating since his election is his opposition to Turkish membership in the European Union.  The operative quote, expressed in a 2004 speech when he was an opposition deputy in the Belgian parliament, is: