from Photographers' Blog:

An endangered priesthood

March 4, 2013

Tagaytay city, Philippines

By Erik de Castro

I woke at dawn to the sound of a bell ringing and Gregorian Chant music at the Saint Augustine Minor Seminary compound on Mindoro island in the central Philippines. It was still dark as dozens of seminarians in the first phase of a 12-year journey to priesthood walked towards a chapel for their morning prayers and a mass.

from India Insight:

Finding harmony in music and Islam

February 20, 2013

The grand mufti whose words against music ended the short career of an all-girl teenage pop band in Kashmir last month made me wonder: is music really un-Islamic? He said that if women indulge in indecent, immoral acts such as singing, it would be a step toward their destruction. Is it really that simple in Islam? Of course it isn't.

from Photographers' Blog:

An island of religion in a sea of secularism

February 19, 2013

Warsaw, Poland

By Kacper Pempel

When Pope Benedict XVI announced last week that he was stepping down, the mood in my country, Poland, was overwhelming. This is one of the most devoutly Catholic countries in Europe, which still proudly identifies itself as the birthplace of Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II. On the day of the announcement my colleagues went to the church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw. The worshipers coming out of the church were in a state of shock. "It’s so sad. It’s such a shame. But what can we do? I can’t believe it,” said one woman as she left the Holy Cross church in the Polish capital, who gave her name as Maria. “I am very sorry because I really like the Pope. He is continuing the teachings of our Pope (John Paul II).” Janusz, another worshiper, said: “I don’t think it’s true. In my opinion it would not be a good solution. It would definitely be a huge pity for Poles and Catholics.”

from India Insight:

‘Nobody can stop you if you engage in art with dignity': Zila Khan on singing and Islam

February 7, 2013

The members of Praagaash, an all-girl band in Kashmir, split up this week after an influential cleric deemed their music un-Islamic. Zila Khan, one of India’s most popular sufi singers and daughter of sitar maestro Vilayat Khan, spoke to Reuters about how singing is closest to worship and meditation and how children should be allowed to sing.

from John Lloyd:

A church divided against itself cannot stand

By John Lloyd
November 27, 2012

The Church of England voted not to ordain female bishops last week, a move widely seen as defying the modern world. Much justification was given for this view.

from Photographers' Blog:

A barrier to peace

November 15, 2012

Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Cathal McNaughton

“Sure, why would they want to pull down these walls?” asks William Boyd mildly as he offers me a cup of tea in his home at Cluan Place, a predominantly Loyalist area of east Belfast.

from Photographers' Blog:

Portraying polygamy

November 14, 2012

Rockland Ranch community outside Moab, Utah

By Jim Urquhart

If patience is a virtue I am damned to burn forever but I've made some friends in the process.

from Photographers' Blog:

Baby-kissing Popes

October 5, 2012

By Max Rossi

There's a man in this world that kisses more babies than any mother over the course of her life: the Pope.

from Edward Hadas:

Remembering the 1960s

By Edward Hadas
September 19, 2012

Revolution was not on the agenda when the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church opened on Oct. 11, 1962, almost exactly 50 years ago. However, the gathering marked the start of a new era, not only for the world’s largest centrally-run religion. During the following years, the hope for a better, freer world led to everything from the sexual revolution to the Prague Spring, from African independence to the hippie culture of Woodstock. A half-century on, it seems a good time for an economist to take stock.

from Photographers' Blog:

Exorcism in the Andes

September 10, 2012

By Jaime Saldarriaga

I first learned of exorcist Hermes Cifuentes, better known as “Brother Hermes,” through the local news media. His exorcisms fascinated me, so I decided to find out more. Many people are against what he does, but when I tracked down his phone number and called, he invited me to visit his retreat in La Cumbre, just north of Cali.