Alexis Tsipras, who was sworn in earlier this week as the new Prime Minister of Greece, has become his country's first openly atheist leader. A survey noted that atheist leaders in Europe are becoming more prominent, with France and Croatia also being led by non-religious figures.
Tsipras was sworn in on Monday after his Syriza party won the elections in Greece, but he chose not to take a religious oath at the ceremony. Reuters noted that Tsipras, whose left-wing party has opposed austerity measures, broke from tradition when he decided to take a civil, rather than a biblical oath.
Quartz analyzed public statements from European leaders and identified at least two others who have also said that they are atheists — French President Francois Hollande and Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović. more >>
Pope Francis reportedly met a Spanish transsexual and his fiancée at the Vatican, after giving him a phone call on Christmas Day. Diego Neria Lejarraga, who was born a woman, wrote to the pontiff in December to tell him that a parish priest had called him "the devil's daughter."
AFP reported that 48-year-;/old Lejarraga met Francis on Saturday at the Vatican, after telling the pope that he had been treated as an outcast in his parish in Plasencia in western Spain. The Spanish citizen, who identifies as a Roman Catholic, has undergone sexual reassignment surgery.
"After hearing him on many occasions, I felt that he would listen to me," Lejarraga reportedly told the Spanish Holy newspaper. more >>
A Roman Catholic archbishop said that the Catholic Church will be keeping its ban on allowing women to serve as priests in the wake of the Church of England's consecration of its first ever female bishop.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, who is also the Catholic co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, told the Vatican Radio on Tuesday that while "the conversation about women's ministry continues in parts of the Catholic Church, this development is unlikely to bring about changes in the Catholic teaching on the sacrament of ordination."
The Church of England made history earlier this week when it consecrated its first ever woman bishop, Rev. Libby Lane, who will serve the diocese of Stockport. more >>
Almost 300 survivors from the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland where over a million people were killed during the Holocaust marked the 70th year since the camp's liberation on Tuesday. Notable Jewish figures such as director Steven Spielberg attended the event and delivered a speech, with survivors warning that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe again.
"We survivors do not want our past to be our children's future," said Roman Kent, born in 1929, according to BBC News.
"Once again young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes [skullcaps] on the streets of Paris, Budapest, London and even Berlin," added Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. more >>
A Church of England priest briefly disrupted the consecration ceremony for the first ever female bishop in the church after he shouted "not in the Bible." The ceremony went on as planned, however, and the Rev. Libby Lane was ordained as the Bishop of Stockport in front of over 1,000 people.
"It is a remarkable thing that this happens to me, and people have been very supportive of me personally, but actually this is about a moment in the Church's history," Lane said, reflecting on the occasion.
BBC News reported that the priest who spoke out was the Rev. Paul Williamson from Hanworth, West London. Williamson made his views heard after the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, asked during the ceremony whether Lane should be ordained as bishop. more >>
Churches in the United Kingdom will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by focusing on the Christian influence of the document.
Both the Church of England's General Synod and other church officials have called on England to remember the church's involvement in the Magna Carta's creation.
The Right Rev. Alan Smith, the bishop of the Diocese of St Albans, sent a letter in January about his concern over the church's role being minimized in popular memory of the 1215 political milestone. more >>