FaithWorld

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.

Read Catherine Hornby’s full report from Rome here. Here’s a link to Vatican Radio’s report.

Some reports on its approval by the Catholic Church in the U.S. suggested confession would now be possible via iPhone. Our original story on this from New York included the following paragraph: The app is not designed to replace going to confession but to help Catholics through the act, which generally involves admitting sins to a priest in a confessional booth. Catholics still must go to a priest for absolution.

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”.

U.S. churches could benefit from new community radio law

microphone

A traditional BBC microphone in London, October 31, 2008/Toby Melville

A tiny nonprofit organization operating a national campaign from the basement of Calvary United Methodist Church in Philadelphia for 12 years to get more non-commercial radio stations approved may soon see its dream come true.

On January 4, the nonprofit Prometheus and other groups seeking to diversify media ownership, scored a victory when President Barack Obama signed into law the Local Community Radio Act. It directs the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the national airwaves, to allow more low-power stations access to the FM radio dial.

Once implemented, the law is expected to result in as many 2,000 new stations, beginning in about 2013. That would more than double the approximately 800 low-power stations currently in operation, compared with around 13,000 commercial stations nationwide. “It makes a lot more room on a medium (FM radio) that a lot of people still use,” said Prometheus founder Pete Tridish.

from India Insight:

A Republic Day to forget for India’s opposition party

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh watched India’s 61st Republic Day parade in the New Delhi sunshine on Wednesday morning, senior opposition leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were in a Jammu prison, where they had spent a night under arrest.

Detained for attempting to lead thousands of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers into India’s northern state of Jammu & Kashmir to provocatively raise the national flag in the state that has been racked by unrest by Muslim separatists opposed to Indian rule, Swaraj and Jaitley’s politically-driven mission had ended in failure.

Workers of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold national flags and shout slogans during a protest on a bridge at Madhopur, in the northern Indian state of Punjab January 25, 2011. Thousands of Indian Hindu-nationalist opposition supporters massed on a bridge to the disputed Kashmir region on Tuesday as officials sought to stop a flag-raising ceremony that could spark violence. Police faced off with flag-waving BJP workers as authorities sealed routes into Kashmir to thwart the planned raising of the national flag in the state that has been racked by unrest by Muslim separatists opposed to Indian rule. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta

The BJP appear to have thought that the nationalism-drenched plan to hoist the flag in the centre of Srinagar, the state capital, would galvanize their Hindu support base, and show the ruling Congress party as ineffective in defending the disputed state from separatists who rile against New Delhi’s rule.

Guestview: Editorial independence and an ecumenical news agency

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone.  Peter Kenny is the former editor-in-chief of ENInews.
eninews1By Peter Kenny

Maintaining editorial integrity at ENInews, a Geneva-based world-wide news agency run by Ecumenical News International that covers global Christianity and other religions, is hard work. Although church groupings and their partner organizations founded ENInews, editorial independence is often linked to that which is the root of all evil — money. (Photo: Financial freeze puts squeeze on ENInews at Geneva Ecumenical Centre/Peter Kenny)

And that was one of the root causes of ENInews being forced to suspend production for a time at the beginning of the year. It has resumed services and now has an interim editor and is looking for an editor/manager for a one-year term, who will have no office. In 2011 it will also likely face another big cut from its biggest sponsor.

Russia to launch Muslim TV channel to promote tolerance

snowy mosque (Photo: Workers clearing snow during windy weather in front of the Kul-Sharif mosque in Kazan, capital of the Tatarstan republic, March 11, 2010/Denis Sinyakov)

Russia will soon launch a Muslim television channel in the hope it will foster tolerance after the capital saw some of the worst clashes since the fall of the Soviet Union, state-run media have reported.

Proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev two years ago, the satellite channel will go on air in February or March across Russia, home to some 20 million Muslims, or a seventh of the country’s population.

“We believe it is necessary to cultivate a spirit of tolerance towards representatives of other faiths,” RIA news agency on Tuesday quoted Russia’s Chief Mufti Ravil Gaynutdin as saying, adding programmes will be designed for a young audience.

Hindu and Muslim Bollywood stars urge calm before Indian mosque verdict

priyanka002It’s a sign of how explosive the Ayodhya mosque verdict in India could be that several Hindu and Muslim film stars in Bollywood have issued a public appeal for calm once the decision is announced. As we’ve posted here on FaithWorld, an Indian court is due to announce on Thursday whether Hindus or Muslims own land around the Babri mosque, which Hindu nationalists demolished in 1992. The Hindu-Muslim riots that followed killed some 2,000 people. (Image: Priyanka Chopra in screengrab from ANI/Reuters video)

Bollywood, the Bombay (now Mumbai)-based Hindi-language film industry, walks a tightrope in making mass-audience films in what may be the most religiously diverse country in the world. Some of the most popular Bollywood stars are Muslim, although the majority of viewers are Hindu (Muslims make up 13% of the Indian population). Like the actors and actresses in this appeal, many of them publicly work, play and love (see here) across the religious divide. But tensions like those after the Ayodhya mosque riots — including riots in Mumbai itself — have left their scars. Some Muslim writers (see here and here) say suspicion of Muslims is a recurring theme in Bollywood films.

farhanIn the video below, the stars mostly speak in Hindi sprinkled with occasional English words. That’s nothing unusual and can be useful as well. For example, when actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra says (at 00:48) that “in our country all religions have been living together for so long…”, she uses the English word “religion.” That was a neutral alternative to local words she might have used with either a Hindu (dharma) or Muslim (din) background.

Russian Orthodox say “no breakthrough” at Catholic-Orthodox talks last week

catho-orthThe Russian Orthodox Church said on Tuesday there was no “breakthrough” at a Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue meeting in Vienna last week that ended with reports of promising progress on the thorny issue of the role of the Catholic pope. The statement may be more interesting for what it doesn’t say than what it does. It’s not clear which reports Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the “foreign minister” of the Moscow Patriarchate, was referring to when he said that “contrary to allegations in the press, the Orthodox-Catholic Commission meeting in Vienna has made no ‘breakthrough’ whatsoever.” (Photo: Pope Benedict and Metropolitan Hilarion meet at the Vatican, May 20, 2010/Tony Gentile)

Did any media report a breakthrough? Not that I’ve seen. Is it possible that Hilarion was actually referring to the cautiously upbeat statements given at a final news conference by Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon and Archbishop Kurt Koch, the top Vatican official for Christian unity?

Hilarion was in Vienna last week but did not appear at the news conference. Metropolitan John, who spoke for the Orthodox side, is affiliated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, the spiritual leader of all Orthodox which Moscow seems to compete with for a leadership role. Could this have played a part?

FBI tells US Mohammed cartoonist to ‘go ghost’ – report

prophet (Photo: Banner at demonstration in Kuala Lumpur against a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed March 26, 2010/Bazuki Muhammad)

A Seattle cartoonist who stirred up a religious storm with a tongue-in-cheek encouragement to draw images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed has gone into hiding after a threat to her safety.

Cartoonist Molly Norris, who published an illustration in April on her website entitled “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” was told by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to “go ghost,” according to Seattle Weekly, where Morris was a regular contributor.

“On the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI,” Norris is “moving, changing her name and essentially wiping away her identity,” a Seattle Weekly report said on Thursday.

Feisty debates between Catholics and secularists before pope visit to Britain

arrest the pope002If you like debates about religion but were turned off by the uproar in the United States over Koran-burning and the New York Islamic centre, take a look at the rhetorical duelling that’s been going on in Britain ahead of Pope Benedict’s visit there starting on Thursday. For the past few weeks, the leading lights of secularist and atheist thought have been hammering away at the Catholic Church, playing up its sins like the sexual abuse crisis and arguing that the pope doesn’t deserve the honour of a state visit. A quick Google search digs out plenty of them. (Click on the screen grab for video on British group’s proposal to arrest Pope Benedict during his visit/MSNBC via YouTube)

On the other side, a group of lay Catholics has formed a speakers’ bureau ready to face off with the critics and defend the pope and the Church. They’re a kind of rapid reaction force, ready to appear anywhere to refute the secularists and atheists. The result has been a feisty in-your-face exchange providing the pro and contra arguments for many current disputes over the Catholic Church. Some arguments could be criticised as too emotional or even irrational, but boring they’re not.

Catholic Voices, the speakers’ bureau that’s been putting up sparring partners for the Church’s critics, must already rank as one of the big innovations of this papal tour.  Popes are no strangers to protests when they visit foreign countries, but the Vatican and the local Church hierarchy usually ignore the critics or give cautious responses. Under Pope Benedict, Vatican public relations has been so badly organised that both he and his aides have often provided even more fuel for criticism. Given the strong and mostly critical interest the media would show in the pope’s visit, these speakers – journalists, lawyers, students and a few clergy – decided the Church needed a more professional operation if it was to get its message across.