A Pakistani minister in Scotland has forgiven the suicide bombers who murdered his mother and other family members in attacks at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, that killed 122 last month.
"It is wrong what these people did but I forgive them...Forgiving is what we learn from the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I forgive," Aftab Gohar, a Church of Scotland minister, who lost his 79-year-old mother, nephew, niece, two uncles and other friends and relatives, told BBC News.
After the Sunday service on Sept. 22, bombs packed with ball bearings to ensure maximum carnage exploded, killing and wounding dozens who were socializing in the courtyard and lining up to receive food, Two Islamist militant groups with links to the Taliban later claimed responsibility, arguing that the attack had been a response to U.S. drone strikes. more >>
Pope Francis is set to meet next week with WBC middleweight boxing champion and fellow Argentinean Sergio Martinez, when the two will discuss anti-bullying and domestic violence against women.
"In the past couple of months, I will have had two of my dreams as a Catholic come true, to visit the Basilica of our Lady Guadalupe in Mexico and to be received by the Pope," 38-year-old Martinez said. "I will be asking the Pope for blessings and spiritual protection to all of those who enter the ring."
Muhammad Ali's meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1982 was the last time a professional boxer had met a pontiff for a private conversation, USA Today noted, and Martinez has made his excitement ahead of the meeting known. more >>
Nathan Verhelst, a transgender man who was born a girl, called Nancy, decided to end his own life through euthanasia after a botched sex change surgery. The 44-year-old Belgian had been undergoing hormone therapy since 2009, but the gender assignment surgeries in 2012 did not meet his expectations, and he opted to die by a state-sanctioned lethal injection on Monday.
Nathan Verhelst had several surgeries to alter his appearance from that of a woman's to a man's. He underwent a mastectomy and had operations to construct a penis last year. However, when Nathan saw the results, he was left unsatisfied. "I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself," he told Het Laatse Nieuws in Belgium. "My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be … a monster."
Before Verhelst could die by euthanasia, he had to abide by Belgian law, which states consultations with doctors and months of counseling. Belgium and the Netherlands are the only countries that allow voluntary euthanasia, while Switzerland and two states in the U.S. allow assisted suicide. Verhelst died by lethal injection Monday at the hands of Wim Distelmans, a cancer specialist. more >>
British magistrates looking to remove the option of swearing an oath on the Bible from the court are finding opposition in the face of church leaders who say such a move would seek to further remove religion from society.
"The Bible is bound up with the constitution, institutions and history of this country. It is right for people to have a choice of oath, a religious or non-religious one," said the The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, according to The Daily Mail.
"But we are being urged, in the name of tolerance and secularization, to restrict that choice." more >>
Participants in the International Peace Meeting held in Rome have called for renouncing violence against Christians in the Middle East and separating religion from politics.
Participants pointed out that the relationship between populations in the Middle East and North Africa must be based on common citizenship and not on religious affiliation.
Archbishop Ghaleb Bader of Algiers warned of the decrease in the number of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa after the Arab Spring, indicating that the struggles between various components of Islam show the fragility of coexistence in the region. more >>
A pastor in the United Kingdom was arrested after being accused of persuading congregants to undress before he spanked them in the church office.
Three people have come forward accusing Howard Curtis, former pastor of Coulsdon Christian Fellowship in Croydon, of assault, the Daily Mail reports. The 70-year-old allegedly committed the assaults between 2006 and 2009.
Curtis, who was arrested in July, is out on bail, but is currently not permitted to attend the church alone or have contact with children without supervision. more >>