A topless abortion activist with the words "God is Woman" written across her bare chest was arrested in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Thursday, after rushing the nativity scene and attempting to flee with a baby Jesus figurine.
Iana Zhdanova of FEMEN, a radical feminist organization from Ukraine that's based in Paris, stunned onlookers in Rome on Christmas Day when she stormed the nativity display wearing only jeans and sneakers. Video footage of the incident shows the blonde-haired activist proudly raising baby Jesus above her head and screaming an inaudible message to horrified onlookers before being apprehended by Vatican police.
The protest came shortly after Pope Francis unveiled the nativity while marking Christmas with a late-night mass in St Peter's Basilica. more >>
Pope Francis spent Christmas night on the telephone with persecuted refugees in Kurdistan who've been targeted by terror group ISIS, telling them that they're "like Jesus on the night of His birth" because of the dangers they face. The Vatican leader attempted to offer the people comfort, and told them that they're "close to his heart."
"You are like Jesus on the night of his birth when he had been forced to flee. You are like Jesus in this situation, and that means we are praying even harder for you," Francis told the refugees in a telephone call to Father Benoca, the head of the Christian community in the Ankawa Refugee Center near Erbil.
"Dear brothers, I am very, very close to you with all of my heart. May the Lord caress you with His tenderness." more >>
Pope Francis has spoken out against the "sickness" of greed and lust for power at the Vatican in his annual Christmas speech, warning that senior officials forgetting the importance of serving God is a sign of "spiritual Alzheimer." The pope's direct words left many clerics at the gathering "uncomfortable," according to observers.
"A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service," Francis said on Tuesday in a half-hour speech before the Roman Catholic Curia, the church's central administration.
"Spiritual Alzheimer's disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the 'first love': this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one's own often imaginary views," Francis continued. more >>
A reported convert to Islam drove his car into a crowd, injuring 13 people in France, all while shouting "God is great!" in Arabic; authorities are now investigating whether he had ties to ISIS or simply lashed out on his own.
The 40-year-old is a known psychiatric patient who drove into groups of people in Dijon, France on Sunday. Witnesses told police that the driver, still unnamed, yelled "Allahu Akbar" and "that he was acting for the children of Palestine." The incident left two of those in the crowd in "very serious" condition.
Church of England leader the Most Rev Justin Welby has opened up in an interview about the death of his first born child, 7-month-old daughter Johanna, who died in a tragic car accident. Welby said that he never attempts to answer why God allows suffering in the world, other than to point out that Jesus Christ was also young and unfairly killed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury told BBC Radio 4 that Johanna's death in 1983 is a "constant reminder of the uncertainty of life," and recalled the day of the tragedy, when his wife Caroline was being driven through Paris in the passenger seat, while their daughter was in a carrycot in the back.
"I was finishing off some work in Paris and Caroline set off with a friend, someone else was driving and they had a car crash," he said. more >>
The Church of England has for the first time in its history appointed a woman bishop, breaking centuries of tradition that had defined the position as exclusive to men. The Rev. Libby Lane was announced on Wednesday as the new Bishop of Stockport, with her consecration ceremony scheduled for January.
"I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God," Lane said, responding to the news.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, praised the news and said that he is "delighted" that Lane was chosen for the position. more >>