Malaysia canes women for having sex out of wedlock

By Reuters Staff
February 18, 2010
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Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, due to be caned for drinking beer, 24 Aug 2009/Zainal Abd Halim

A 7-year-old Rio Carnival queen parades in tears and controversy

February 15, 2010
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Julia Lira is led by her father Marco (L) to their contingent in the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, 14 Feb 2010/Bruno Domingos

Can we expect Freudian slips when Benedict meets Irish bishops?

February 13, 2010
spiegel cover

This week's cover of the German newsweekly Der Spiegel -- the title says "The sanctimonious ones -- the Catholic Church and sex"

Irish clergy abuse victims torn between Dublin monument and Haiti aid

January 28, 2010
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The Ryan report into child abuse, 20 May 2009/Cathal McNaughton

One of the healing measures suggested when Ireland’s Catholic clerical sex scandals shocked the country last year was a proposal to erect a monument in Dublin to all the youths abused for decades at schools and orphanages run by religious orders that looked the other way.  The idea, proposed by the government’s Ryan report last May, won so much support that half a million euros were earmarked for the project. The government appointed a group to consider what the Irish Times called “the most difficult public art commission in the history of the state.”

Vatican rebukes prelate denying heaven to gays and transsexuals

December 3, 2009

barraganA Roman Catholic Cardinal has told homosexuals and transsexuals  they would never get into heaven, prompting a rebuke from the Vatican itself.

In abuse by Irish priests, a little “mental reservation”

November 29, 2009

irish-countrysideIt was a ride and I was hitchhiking around Ireland and the driver of a tiny Morris Minor who’d stopped was a priest, so what could be wrong?

Swedish Lutheran church to allow gay marriages from Nov. 1

October 23, 2009

gay-cake-ornamentSweden’s Lutheran church, the Church of Sweden, has decided to conduct gay weddings in the Nordic country from Nov. 1. “We are the first major church to do this,” said Kristina Grenholm, the church’s director of theology. The decision came after the Swedish parliament earlier this year passed legislation allowing homosexuals to legally marry, changing a previous law permitting legal unions but not formal marriage.

Would Polanski get a pass if he were a paedophile priest?

September 29, 2009

polanskiIt’s hard to watch France’s political and cultural elite rush to support filmmaker Roman Polanski against extradition to the United States on a decades-old sex charge and not wonder exactly how they interpret the national motto liberté, égalité, fraternité.” It’s tempting to ask whether they’re defending the liberty to break the law and skip town, respecting the equality of all before the law and championing a brotherhood of artists who can do no wrong.

Artist takes on censorship, porn law amid Indonesia restrictions

September 29, 2009

suwageIndonesian artist Agus Suwage knows what it is like to run up against the religious conservatives. Four years ago, he was hauled into parliament, where lawmakers accused him of blasphemy and of producing pornography dressed up as art. Today, facing an even more restrictive climate in Indonesia, Suwage refuses to be silenced and has made those restrictions the focus of his art.

Italy’s Catholic Church vs. Berlusconi drama, Act II

September 16, 2009

famcriA running crisis in relations between Silvio Berlusconi’s government and the Church deepened when Italy’s top Catholic weekly accused him of acting like a “prince” while many Italians were struggling financially.  A scathing editorial in Famiglia Cristiana, Italy’s largest circulation weekly news magazine, also indirectly criticised the media mogul’s private life and attacked the type of women politicians he has promoted in his centre-right party. And it did so without naming him once. The clever editorial in its online edition on September 16, here in Italian, was unsigned, meaning it was written by the magazine’s editor, Father Antonio Sciortino.