The United States on Wednesday unveiled its annual survey of religious freedom, citing countries ranging from North Korea to Eritrea as repressing religious liberties.
Pope Benedict will boost the European majority among the men due to elect his successor when he creates 24 new cardinals at the Vatican on Saturday. The nominations are part of a wider strategy by the German-born pope to strengthen Roman Catholicism in Europe. The following is a guest contribution and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Jean-Marie Guénois is deputy editor-in-chief of the Paris daily Le Figaro and a specialist on religion. The article first appeared in French on his Religioblog.*
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Wednesday he will not sign an execution order for Tareq Aziz, the former deputy of dictator Saddam Hussein sentenced to death last month for crimes against humanity.
(Photo: Muslim immigrants pray during Eid al-Adha celebrations in front of Athens university November 16, 2010/Yannis Behrakis)
Dozens of far-right activists and local residents threw eggs and taunted hundreds of Muslim immigrants as they gathered to pray in a central square for Eid al-Adha surrounded by a protective cordon of riot police.
(Photo: Chancellor Angela Merkel in Karlsruhe, 15 Nov 2010/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans debating Muslim integration to stand up more for Christian values, saying Monday the country suffered not from “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity.”
Using the Bible as its guide, Texas-based energy company Zion Oil and Gas has searched for oil in the Holy Land for a decade. The company uses a map of the 12 ancient tribes of Israel and the biblical assertion – “the foot of Asher to be dipped in oil on the head of Joseph” – as an unlikely guide to help it decide where to drill.
(Photo: An Orthodox priest holds up a box containing bones believed to be the relics of John the Baptist, in Sofia, November 12, 2010/Oleg Popov)
Bulgaria’s main Orthodox cathedral is displaying jaw and arm bones and a tooth said to be relics of John the Baptist, in a move state officials hope will boost tourism to the Black Sea resort where they were found. Prominent politicians and simple believers flocked to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia to view the remains, which were found near the town of Sozopol in July and are on display in the Bulgarian capital through Sunday.
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama donned a headscarf on a visit to an mosque in Indonesia on Wednesday, not a requirement for a non-Muslim but a sign of the Obamas’ efforts to show respect for the Islamic world.
When U.S. President Barack Obama first addressed the Muslim world in its traditional heartland last year, his speech was laden with references to the past, to Islam and to the tensions plaguing the Middle East. Updating his speech on Wednesday on the far eastern fringe of that world, his upbeat remarks about Indonesia’s democracy, development and diversity spelled hope for the future.
(Photo: Pope Benedict at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, November 6, 2010/Stefano Rellandini)
Pope Benedict, on a lightning trip to Spain, urged Europe on Saturday to re-discover God and its Christian heritage and also denounced the country’s liberal abortion laws.