FaithWorld

Vatican turns to Internet to stem sexual abuse scandals

(A computer mouse pad with an image of Pope John Paul II in Brazil, October 2, 1997/Gregg Newton)

The Roman Catholic Church, often accused of dragging its feet on sexual abuse scandals, will turn to the Internet with a new e-learning center to help safeguard children and the victims of molestation. The Vatican presented the move at a news conference on Saturday flagging an international conference on sexual abuse of children by clergy to be held next February at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University with church backing.

“The e-learning center will work with medical institutions and universities to develop a constant response to the problems of sexual abuse,” Monsignor Klaus Peter Franzl of the archdiocese of Munich. It will be posted in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian and help bishops and other church workers put into place Vatican guidelines to protect children.

“We want people to know that we are serious about this and that we think the Church has to be at the center of a solution,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. “This is not a flash in the pan initiative but something we are committed to in the long-term.”

The e-learning center will offer guidance to those who have to respond to abuse cases as well as information for victims.

Iran to make university courses more Islamic

(In the mosque at a Tehran university, July 29, 2007/Morteza Nikoubazl)

Iran plans sweeping changes to university courses to make them more compatible with Islam, the official IRNA news agency reported on Friday. Deputy Minister of Science for Research and Technology Mohammad Mehdi Nejad Nouri, quoted by IRNA, said at least 36 courses would be changed by September after revision by a group of university and seminary experts.

The report did not name the subjects that would be changed, but officials said last year Iran would review 12 disciplines in the social sciences, including law, women’s studies, human rights, management, sociology, philosophy, psychology and political sciences, as their contents were too closely based on Western culture. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for modification of these studies in August, saying that many humanities subjects are based on principles founded in materialism rather than divine Islamic teachings.

The Islamic Republic’s hardline rulers accuse the West of engaging in a “soft war”, trying to influence the country’s young generation with non-Islamic ideas. Access to the Internet and illegal satellite television mean Western culture is popular among young Iranians, a vital constituency in a country where 70 percent of the population is under 30 and has no real memory of the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah. Around 50 percent of Iranian university students read humanities.

Turkish PM raps France for face veil ban, militants online urge punishment for Paris

(Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)

(Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 13, 2011/Vincent Kessler)

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused France of violating the freedom of religion on Wednesday after Paris began enforcing a law barring Muslim women from wearing full face veils in public. He told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that Turkey was the only Muslim country that had copied the French law on secularism, or separating church and state.

“It’s quite ironic to see that secularism is today under debate in Europe and is undermining certain freedoms,” he said. “Today in France, there is no respect for individual religious freedom,” he said. The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe monitors human rights across the continent. Read the full story here.

Iran Nazi website reopens, raising issue of anti-Semitism

ahmedinejadAn Iranian Internet site for devotees of Nazi Germany has been allowed to reopen after being blocked briefly by government censors, a news website reported, raising questions about the official attitude to anti-Semitism.

The site, irannazi.ir, says it is the home of the “Historical Research Society for World War Two and the Third Reich.” According to conservative news website TABNAK it was blocked temporarily but then reopened, saying the suspension had been due to complaints by Iranian Jews. (Photo: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Geneva April 20, 2009/Denis Balibouse)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has many times denied the Nazis’ extermination of millions of Jews during World War II. Ahmadinejad angered Israel and its allies by calling the Holocaust a “myth” and a “lie” and has predicted the end of Israel as a state.

from Afghan Journal:

Afghanistan cracks down on Internet cafes for allowing porn

cafe

Seventeen internet cafes have been shutdown in the Afghan capital Kabul, for allowing their clients to surf porn websites and access other unspecified "un-Islamic websites", the local Pajhwok news agency reported.

The move comes a few months after a crackdown on sale of alcohol, banned for Muslims and only sold to non-Muslims in a handful of bars and restaurants -- though there is still a thriving black market selling bottles at a price.

Some friends in Kabul have suggested the tightening could be part of government efforts to placate the Taliban and hold talks with them, by cutting back on some aspects of modern society that the hardline movement is likely to object to.

Dead Sea scrolls going digital on Internet

dead sea scrolls 1 (Photo: Sections of the Dead Sea scrolls at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, May 14, 2008/Baz Ratner)

Scholars and anyone with an Internet connection will be able to take a new look into the Biblical past through an online archive of high-resolution images of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls.

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the custodian of the scrolls that shed light on the life of Jews and early Christians at the time of Jesus, said on Tuesday it was collaborating with Google’s research and development center in Israel to upload digitized images of the entire collection.

Advanced imaging technology will be installed in the IAA’s laboratories early next year and high-resolution images of each of the scrolls’ 30,000 fragments will be freely accessible on the Internet. The IAA conducted a pilot imaging project in 2008.

Saudi royal order says only appointed clerics can issue public fatwas

saudi fatwasSaudi King Abdullah has ordered that public religious edicts, or public fatwas, be issued only by clerics he appoints, in the boldest measure the ageing monarch has taken to organise the religious field.

Timid efforts by the absolute monarchy to modernise the deeply conservative country have led to a profusion in fatwas from scholars and mosque imams in the country, who use the Internet to publicise them as they fight what they perceive as the westernisation of the country. (Photo: Saudi King Abdullah, 30 July 2010/Ali Jarekji)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah gestures during his meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman July 30, 2010.

Vatican puts abuse rules online to quell critics

vatican sky

The dome of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. April 4, 2005/Alessia Pierdomenico

The Vatican published an online guide on Monday to rules for handling sex abuse charges against priests and defended the pope’s handling of the media storm, saying he was a “great communicator in his own way”.

Just over a year after Pope Benedict acknowledged the Holy See had been slow to embrace the Internet, after mishandling the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop, the Vatican posted an “idiot’s guide” to its rules on how to deal with abuse charges.

For God’s sake, blog!, pope tells priests

pope media

Vatican and new media on pope2you.net, 22 May 2009/Jonathan Bainbridge

For God’s sake, blog! Pope Benedict has told priests, saying they must learn to use new forms of communication to spread the gospel message.

In his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Communications on Saturday, the pope, who is 82 and known not to love computers or the internet, acknowledged priests must make the most of the “rich menu of options” offered by new technology.

“Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources — images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites — which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis,” he said.

Oldest Christian Bible made whole again online

codex

The surviving parts of the world’s oldest Christian Bible were reunited online on Monday, generating excitement among biblical scholars still striving to unlock its mysteries. The Codex Sinaiticus was hand written by four scribes in Greek on animal hide, known as vellum, in the mid-fourth century around the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great who embraced Christianity.

Not all of it has withstood the ravages of time, but the pages that have include the whole of the New Testament and the earliest surviving copy of the Gospels written at different times after Christ’s death by the Four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Bible’s remaining 800 pages and fragments — it was originally some 1400 pages long — also contain half of a copy of the Old Testament. The other half has been lost.

Read our full story here. And consult the Codex here. (Photo: Part of the Codex Sinaiticus at the British Library in London 3 July 2009/Kieran Doherty)

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