Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill revealed that over 60 churches were recently damaged by heavy fighting in the Donetsk and Horlivka dioceses in Ukraine. The patriarch called for an end to the bloodshed between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels, which he said has led to suffering and persecution of Christians.
"The whole civilian population of Donbas is suffering from the humanitarian disaster and armed conflict there together with the devout members of our church, whose parishes and cloisters make up a majority of religious communities in the region," Kirill told senior clergy, as translated by Interfax-Religion.
Western leaders have blamed Russia for directly supporting the rebels who've taken over a number of cities in eastern Ukraine, which has lead to the deaths of over 5,000 people. Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, has denied all accusations of involvement in the conflict. more >>
The head of the Roman Catholic Church has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, sharing consideration with a group including an anti-Putin Russian newspaper and a Saudi Arabian blogger.
While the Norwegian Nobel Institute does not publish an official list of nominees, Norwegian experts who can nominee do drop names, according to Alister Doyle of Reuters.
"Pope Francis has been nominated for stressing social justice and care for the environment, and former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of U.S. electronic surveillance, for showing how citizens are monitored with few democratic controls," reported Doyle. more >>
U.S. officials are considering sending lethal aid such as defensive weapons to the government of Ukraine in its ongoing battle against pro-Russian rebels, as the clashes have been intensifying in recent weeks. The rebels, who are attacking a number of cities in the eastern parts of the country, are looking to build an army of 100,000 fighters.
"Although our focus remains on pursuing a solution through diplomatic means, we are always evaluating other options that will help create space for a negotiated solution to the crisis," said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Several media outlets, including The New York Times, noted an independent report on Monday that was issued by eight former senior American officials which urges President Barack Obama to send $3 billion in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine. This aid would include weapons such as anti-armor missiles and armored Humvees. more >>
A church made entirely from ice located at Balea Lac resort in the remote Fagaras mountains in Romania was recently blessed by priests who represent the various Christian denominations in that country.
This ice church is only reachable by cable car and is located at an altitude of 2,000 meters or 6,600 feet. The water that was taken from Balea Lake, which is northwest of Bucharest, was blessed by priests and chunks of ice were cut with a chain saw and cemented together with water and snow to make the church.
The design for it was taken from an old church in Transylvania. It measures in at 6 meters tall, 14 meters long and 7 meters wide. The structure appears to be one that will be used by all denominations as Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant clerics all held some type of service there this week. more >>
A new Vatican document has condemned elective plastic surgery on women, calling it "aggressive toward the feminine identity."
Vanity-motivated procedures such as breast implant surgeries and tummy tucks are "manipulations of the body that explore its limits with respect to the concept of identity," write the authors of the document titled "Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference."
According to the report, one woman told the authors that "plastic surgery is like a burqa made of flesh." A burqa is a traditional outer garment often worn by some Muslim women in public to conceal the body. more >>
The Church of England has spoken out against a bill that British MPs are getting set to vote on which would allow "three-parent babies" to be born from DNA replacement.
"The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer," Rev. Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England's national adviser on medical ethics, said.
"Without a clearer picture of the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics, the Church does not feel it would be responsible to change the law at this time." more >>