Pope Francis expressed his "deep pain and suffering" with priest sex abuse victims in his first meeting of the kind on Monday, asking them for forgiveness and condemning what he called a "sacrilegious cult" of abusers.
"This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God," the Roman Catholic Church leader declared.
"And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created. Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God's love and are eager to grow in the faith. Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left lifelong scars." more >>
The United Reformed Church in the U.K. fell short of reaching a full consensus on changing its traditional definition of marriage to include same-sex couples during its General Assembly.
The Rev. John Proctor said that a "clear majority" of the 300 delegates were in favor of seeing URC become the U.K.'s biggest church that embraces same-sex marriages, but the church body needed a "full consensus," BBC News noted on Sunday.
"A clear majority of members of Assembly expressed the view that local congregations should be permitted to offer same-sex marriage to those who seek that opportunity," Proctor said of the debate. more >>
A Massachusetts woman who nearly lost her faith over the sudden death of her 25-year-old son received a surprise phone message last week from a Vatican representative, which she believes to be Pope Francis, offering her a big "hug and blessing" in her difficult time.
FoxNews.com reported that the woman, Stephany Nicolo, received the message on her cellphone on Friday from a man who identified himself as a representative from the Vatican, who said that the Roman Catholic Church leader sends her a "big hug and a blessing" and will try to talk to her again.
Nicolo lost her son Eric on May 14 from an epileptic seizure, which left her devastated. The 58-year-old woman, a Roman Catholic, called the Vatican days following her loss. more >>
The European Court of Human Rights upheld on Tuesday a 2010 ban on full-face veils in France, ruling against a 24-year-old French woman who argued that the ban violates her freedom of religion and expression.
"While the Court was aware that the disputed ban mainly affected certain Muslim women, it nevertheless noted that there was no restriction on the freedom to wear in public any item of clothing which did not have the effect of concealing the face and that the ban was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face," ECHR explained in its decision.
The devout Muslim woman, who wasn't named, petitioned that she wanted to be allowed to wear the burqa and niqab in accordance with her religious beliefs and personal convictions. She first took her case to the European Court in 2011, and has insisted that no family member has pressured her to wear the niqab. more >>
A Scottish video game producer, who is behind the popular Grand Theft Auto game, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a landmark church in Edinburgh for use by the community as a center of arts.
Leslie Benzies, the 43-year-old president of the Rockstar North gaming company, will buy St. Stephen's church, an A-listed Stockbridge building half a mile from his home, for over £500,000 or $858,000, according to Edinburgh Evening News.
The Georgian building of the church, built in 1827, is often used for arts and entertainment festivals in Edinburgh, and Benzies, who is known as the Godfather of Gaming, wants to preserve it as a community center. more >>
Pope Francis argued on Monday that the 21st century has seen more Christians under siege for their faith than during the time of the early church.
"There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians," said the pope during a mass in honor of Christian martyrs who were killed under Roman Emperor Nero. "Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an 'elegant' way, with 'white gloves:' that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries."
Pope Francis' words come at a time when Iraq's small population of Christians, which trace their roots back to the earliest days of Christianity, have had to flee their homes as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have taken over the city of Mosul. On Sunday, Nigerian Christians were once again targeted by the Boko Haram, which killed scores of worshippers and burned down four churches in a major attack in Kwada and Kautikari villages. more >>