Pope Francis condemned the increasing inequality between the rich and the poor as well as society's exploitation and manipulation of nature in a lengthy message released ahead of World Peace Day on Jan. 1, 2014.
"It is a truly pressing duty to use the earth's resources in such a way that all may be free from hunger," Francis wrote in his message.
"It is well known that present production is sufficient, and yet millions of persons continue to suffer and die from hunger, and this is a real scandal. We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality and respect for every human being." more >>
Tourism officials in Northern Ireland announced HBO's hit show "Game of Thrones" may do more than mesmerize viewers with adult themes and political intrigue – they're planning on using it to draw visitors.
"Northern Ireland's Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announced the tourism strategy Wednesday but gave no details," The Associated Press reported. Much of the HBO TV series is filmed in Northern Ireland, since the fictional Westeros fits with its historic landscape of castles and rugged coastlines.
"Game of Thrones" follows the book series, "A Song of Ice and Fire," by American author George R.R. Martin. Set in a fictional medieval fantasy land, it centers around the themes of adventure and political intrigue, dragons and zombies, sex and violence. more >>
A UK Christian woman who left her job after her employers pressured her to work Sundays lost her legal appeal on Thursday.
Celestina Mba told the Merton Council before she was hired several years ago that she could not work Sundays at the Brightwell Respite Care House, where she provided care for children with disabilities, according to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC). After two years of employment, however, the council began ordering her to work Sundays.
Mba said in a statement that her employers should have found someone else to take the Sunday shifts, and that she even "offered to take unpopular shifts and work anti-socials in order to protect Sundays." more >>
Ancient DNA that was discovered in a skeleton is casting doubt on previous theories of ancient humans, evolution and migration.
Skeletal remains of homo heidelbergensis found in the Sima de los Huesos ("Pit of Bones") cave in northern Spain is creating more questions than answers after analysis of its genetic material.
"Right now, we've basically generated a big question mark," study researcher Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany told The New York Times. more >>
The Vatican Library and Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University have collaborated on a major digitization project to bring some of the world's oldest and rarest biblical texts online for people around the world to see.
"It's too dangerous to have unique exemplars of anything in one place," explained Dr. Leonard Polonsky of the Polonsky Foundation, who funded the $3.3 million project. "Digitizing enables us to secure all of this material and of course make it broadly available. It's an opportunity you can't resist."
The aim is to bring 1.5 million pages of ancient texts, including Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, to the online platform within the next three years. For now, a select few works are available for online viewers, including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the first major book printed with moveable metal type in the Western world, CNN reported. more >>
Croatians voted against same-sex marriage in a national referendum Sunday, breaking the recent trend of European countries moving away from traditional marriage, and going against the views of their president and prime minister.
"Marriage is the only union enabling procreation. This is the key difference between a marriage and other unions," proclaimed Croatian Cardinal Josip Bozanic in a message to followers, according to the Associated Press.
Sixty-five percent of those who participated in the electoral commission voted "yes" on the referendum question "Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?" while 34 percent said "no." As a result, Croatia's constitution will be amended to specifically ban gay marriage. It was the country's first citizen-initiated referendum since it gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. more >>