FaithWorld

Pope John Paul’s coffin to be exhumed for faithful

jp2 coffin

(The coffin of the late Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 8, 2005/Yves Herman)

Faithful attending the beatification of Pope John Paul in Rome will be able to pray before his coffin, which will be exhumed for the event, the Vatican said on Friday.

The Vatican also warned the faithful around the world not to fall prey to fraudsters, particularly on the Internet, who are selling tickets to the beatification ceremony on May 1.

“For the beatification Mass of Pope John Paul II, as made clear from the outset, no tickets are required,” the Vatican said.

It said people should also steer clear of tour operators promising to procure tickets as part of their packages.

Sorry, Catholics can’t confess via the new iPhone app – Vatican

iphone apps

(Religion apps for the iPhone, photographed in New York, July 21, 2010/Tom Heneghan)

Catholics cannot confess via iPhone and technology is not a substitute for being present when admitting sins to a priest, the Vatican spokesman said on Wednesday. The statement by Father Federico Lombardi follows the launch of an iPhone application aimed at helping Catholics through confession sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the United States.

“One cannot speak in any way of confessing via iPhone,” Lombardi said on Wednesday, adding that confession required the presence of the penitent and the priest. “This cannot be substituted by any IT application,” Lombardi added.

France to renew tight bioethics limits, critics hit Catholic lobbying

ivf

(An in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure in Warsaw, October 26, 2010/Kacper Pempel )

France’s parliament opened debate on revising its bioethics laws on Tuesday amid protests that Roman Catholic Church lobbying had thwarted plans to ease the existing curbs on embryonic stem cell research. The bill, originally meant to update a 2004 law in light of rapid advances in the science of procreation, would also uphold bans on surrogate motherhood and assisted procreation for gays.

The debate coincided with news of France’s first “saviour sibling,” a designer baby conceived in vitro to provide stem cells to treat a sibling suffering from a severe blood disorder.

Indonesia Muslims attack court, churches; mob kills Ahmadis

indonesia 1

(Anti-riot police block protesters outside the court where a Catholic man is on trial for blasphemy in Temanggung February 8, 2011/Stringer)

Hundreds of Muslim radicals set two churches ablaze and attacked a court in Indonesia’s central Java on Tuesday, calling for harsh punishment for a Christian on trial for blasphemy, police said.

The attacks come two days after a mob beat to death three followers of a minority Islamic sect considered heretical by mainstream Muslims, and at the start of so-called “Inter-faith week”, when the country is supposed to celebrate its pluralistic heritage.

Bless me iPhone for I have sinned — an app for Catholic confession

iphone apps

(Religion apps for the iPhone, photographed in New York, July 21, 2010/Tom Heneghan)

An iPhone app aimed at helping Catholics through confession and encouraging lapsed followers back to the faith has been sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the United States.

Confession: A Roman Catholic app, thought to be the first to be approved by a church authority, walks Catholics through the sacrament and contains what the company behind the program describes as a “personalized examination of conscience for each user”.

Church collection plates may go empty in U.S. as electronic giving rises

collectionBrie Hall felt awkward the first few times she passed the collection basket at her Catholic church without tossing in a donation envelope. But it is more convenient to give her gift to God by direct debit from her checking account.

The tradition of passing the church plate in U.S. churches might become a relic of the past, as a majority of Americans pay bills electronically and move away from using cash or writing checks. Despite concerns about commercializing something so personal, electronic giving to churches is growing. (Photo: Rev. Grainger Browning prays with offering donations at his feet during a Sunday service at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, March 28, 2010/Jonathan Ernst)

“You just kind of get over it … because you know you’ve donated,” said Hall, a communications manager for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. At the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, about half of the 1,600 congregants who give regular donations do so electronically, up from 20 percent four years ago.

Top Sunni Islam authority al-Azhar halts dialogue with Vatican

al-azharThe highest authority of Sunni Islam, the Islamic University of al-Azhar in Cairo, has frozen all dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church over what it called Pope Benedict’s repeated insults towards Islam. Benedict this month condemned attacks on churches that killed dozens of people in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria, saying they showed the need to adopt effective measures to protect religious minorities. (Photo: Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, July 13, 2006/Suhaib Salem)

His remarks followed a New Year bombing outside a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria that left 23 people dead and dozens injured and prompted demonstrations by both Christians and Muslims against sectarian violence. The pope urged Christian communities to persevere in a non-violent manner in the face of what he described as “a strategy of violence that has Christians as a target”.

Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Council “reviewed in an emergency meeting on Thursday the repeatedly insulting remarks issued by the Vatican Pope towards Islam and his statement that Muslims are discriminating against others who live with them in the Middle East,” al-Azhar said in a statement. “The council decided to freeze dialogue between al-Azhar and the Vatican for an indefinite period,” it added.

French nun says Pope John Paul gave her ‘second birth’

nun (Photo: Sister Marie Simon-Pierre poses in front of a picture of former pope John Paul II after a news conference in Aix en Provence, January 17, 2011/Jean-Paul Pelissier)

The French Catholic nun who credits the late Pope John Paul with curing her of Parkinson’s disease said on Monday her sudden recovery came just as she was about to quit working because of her ailment.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, 49, said she woke up in June 2005, two months after the Polish-born pope had died, suddenly cured of the disease she had suffered from for four years.

“When I woke up, I felt I was not the same,” Sister Marie told a news conference at the bishop’s office in this southern French city. “There was no more heaviness in my muscles, I could move normally. For me it was a new birth, a second birth.”

New Catholic subdivision for ex-Anglicans will not be a ghetto

anglicans (Photo: Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, (C REAR) follows former Anglican bishops (L-R) John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton after their ordination as Roman Catholic priests at Westminster Cathedral in central London, January 15, 2011/Andrew Winning)

The new Roman Catholic Church body set up to house disaffected Anglicans would not become a ghetto within the Church, the priest appointed to lead the group said on Monday. The ordinariate, a special subdivision in the Church created by the Vatican to allow the converts to retain some of their Anglican customs, would also seek to evangelise while maintaining good relations with Anglicans, the former Church of England bishop Keith Newton told reporters.

The ordinariate, announced by Pope Benedict in 2009, allows those Anglicans opposed to women bishops, gay clergy and same-sex blessings to convert to Rome while keeping many of their traditions. Newton said there was a danger that people would think of it as an ex-Anglican ghetto within the Catholic Church, but “we want to make clear it is not.”

“There are no second-class Catholics,” he added.

Newton, who will be the ordinary or leader of the ordinariate, was ordained into the Catholic Church on Saturday along with two other former Church of England bishops, John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham.

Attack fears cloud Christmas for Baghdad Christians

baghdad (Photo: Pictures of victims killed in an attack of Our Lady of Salvation church shown there on Christmas Eve in Baghdad December 24, 2010/Mohammed Ameen)

Normally on Christmas Eve, Ban Zaki puts on festive clothes and takes her family to Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation church for lively holiday celebrations.

Not this year.

Dressed in black and fighting back tears, she has brought her three children to the church to honour her late husband, who was killed along with 51 others when Iraqi forces stormed it after militants took hostages during Sunday mass on Oct 31.

“He died on this spot,” 49-year-old Zaki said, pointing to the marble floor of the Catholic church. “This year, there will be no festivities, no celebrations. The images of the attack and how they killed my husband here in this place are still in front of my eyes. Those were four hours I won’t forget for the rest of my life,” she said.