from Tales from the Trail:

Hawaii’s favorite son commemorates its new saint

October 9, 2009

Father Damien de Veuster, one of Hawaii's most revered figures, was remembered on Friday by the state's most famous -- U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Common Word” aims for “common deed” for peace

October 7, 2009

20091007commonword3 (Photo: Common Word conference with (from left) former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Georgetown University Professor John Esposito, Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric, former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, 7 Oct 2009/Georgetown University – Phil Humnicky)

Will a common word lead to a common deed? That’s the challenge that the “Common Word” group of Islamic scholars has posed at its fourth major Muslim-Christian dialogue conference now underway at Georgetown University in Washington. The group, which next week marks the second anniversary of its launch, has broken the ice with Christian leaders and fostered a lively and fruitful interchange with them. But it always said its goal was not simply to have more harmonious conferences among theologians. They want to make a real impact lessening tensions between Christians and Muslims out in the real world.

Vatican ruling on disputed Medjugorje shrine expected soon

By Adam Tanner
October 7, 2009

medjugorje-statueHas the Virgin Mary been appearing daily for many years in the once obscure Bosnian village of Medjugorje to share religious messages with a few local believers? Is the site visited by over 30 million pilgrims a hoax? The question has long divided Catholics who have debated whether the visions are a modern-day miracle, wishful thinking or the result of an elaborate fraud.

Will the Nobel Peace Prize go to a religious leader this year?

October 6, 2009

nobel-ceremony (Photo: Nobel Peace Prize 2008 award ceremony, 10 Dec 2008/Ints Kalnins)

The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday in Oslo. What are the odds that a religious leader will win? I checked with our bureau in Oslo for the latest buzz.

After an African-American president, an African pope?

October 5, 2009

turksonIf you start seeing pictures of the man at the right or hearing his name now and then, here’s why.

Sarkozy explains French laïcité to visiting Catholic bishops

October 2, 2009

bishops-elyseeFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy took time out from a busy schedule on Friday to welcome 18 Catholic cardinals, archbishops and bishops from across Europe into the Elysée Palace for a short talk about laïcité. The prelates were in Paris for an annual session of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), a Swiss-based body that brings together all those bishops’ conferences. Among the topics at the three-day conference are relations between church and state in Europe, so it was natural that they’d take the opportunity to learn more about France’s trademark secular system.

U.S. ambassador Diaz: theologian envoy to theologian pope

October 2, 2009

diaz-1Miguel Humberto Diaz might sound like the name of an ambassador from Spain or any Latin American country, but in fact it belongs to the new American ambassador to the Vatican.

Pope pleased by business ethics debate since his encyclical

September 28, 2009

pope-on-planePope Benedict has pronounced himself pleased with the discussion about business ethics sparked by his encyclical “Charity in Truth” published in July. In a short question-and-answer session (here in the original Italian) with journalists en route to the Czech Republic over the weekend, he commented on reactions to the document:

Unusual tit-for-tat in the Vatican over Williamson affair

September 25, 2009

arborelius-2 (Photo: Video grab of Bishop Anders Arborelius on Swedish TV, 23 Sept 2009)

There’s nothing new about tit-for-tat and finger-pointing in diplomacy and politics but the Vatican is usually quite careful not to wash its dirty laundry in public. So it was surprising to see some of the principal characters in the the long-running saga of Richard Williamson, the traditionalist bishop who sparked a crisis in Catholic-Jewish relations when he denied the extent of the Holocaust on Swedish television, now spatting in public over it.

Cuba authorises first prison religious services in 50 years

By Reuters Staff
September 16, 2009

cuba-prisonThe Cuban government has given permission for religious services to be held in the island’s prisons for the first time in 50 years, a church official has said.