Nearly three dozen towns around the world, including in the U.S. and France, launched their first "Sunday Assembly," also known as the atheist church, on Sunday.
According to the Sunday Assembly website, 35 towns launched new Sunday Assemblies, adding to the more than two dozen Sunday Assemblies that were already established. The group says its mission is to tackle loneliness and social isolation.
"And the world certainly needs more community: social isolation and loneliness are on the rise with 40% of US adults say they are lonely compared to 20% in the 80s and 1 in 10 UK adults say they have no close friends," the website states. "This has massive effects on society, and on the health of society with studies showing that loneliness has comparable impacts on your health as smoking and obesity, it impairs immune function and boosts inflammation and can contribute to arthritis, type II diabetes and heart disease." more >>
Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, who has been accused of protecting a priest suspected of sexually abusing minors, has been officially removed from his post by the Roman Catholic Church. In a subsequent letter to the Vatican, Plano hit back against the decision and said that Pope Francis "will have to answer before God."
The Vatican explained in a statement on Thursday that Francis has decided to replace Plato following an investigation, and named Ricardo Jorge Valenzuela Ríos, Bishop of Villarrica del Espíritu Santo, to fill his vacancy.
"The grave decision taken by the Holy See, under the weight of serious pastoral concerns, is for the greater good and unity of the Church of Ciudad del Este and episcopal communion in Paraguay," the statement read. more >>
Kate Middleton, Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant with Prince William's second child and she has already reportedly decided on a name. Middleton believes the child is a girl and has allegedly decided to name it after the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
According to palace sources, the ultrasound has detected more than one heartbeat and it is likely that Kate is going to have twins. There is currently no guarantee one of them will be a girl but if that does happen, naming the other twin will be something that the royal couple will have to think about.
Prince William and Kate reportedly want to name one of their daughters Diana in honor of the late Princess Diana. However, it was reported by Celebrity Dirty Laundry that Queen Elizabeth has requested that the twin girls be named "Elizabeth" and "Margaret" -- one wold be named after her and the other for her sister, who died more than a decade ago. more >>
The center of the Roman Catholic Church has put a defrocked archbishop under house arrest, pending his criminal trial over accusations of sexual abuse.
Vatican City officials placed 66-year-old Jozef Wesolowski, former ambassador of the Holy See and archbishop, under house arrest due to the city-state lacking a proper jailhouse.
"It is the first time the Vatican will hold a criminal trial on charges of child sexual abuse, and it comes as Pope Francis has been trying to set a new tone of rigorous attention in the long-running abuse scandal," reported the New York Times. more >>
A journalist with close ties to the Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan claims that two "very important" imprisoned Islamic State members were freed by the Turkish government as part of the trade that caused ISIS, also known as ISIL, to release 49 hostages whom returned to Turkey on Saturday.
With Erdogan appearing before the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday in New York, many wondered how he and the Turkish government had gotten ISIS to free the hostages it secured when the group seized the Iraqi city of Mosul in June. Erdogan was asked about the hostages but gave vague responses providing nothing more than hints leaving many unanswered questions about what exactly Turkey gave up in return to the barbaric terrorist group that doesn't normally just willing let go of large groups of hostages.
During his visit to Albania and amid tightened security, Pope Francis on Sunday strongly condemned groups that pervert religion for violence under the guise of being "the armor of God." His comments come as the terror group Islamic State, or ISIS, continues to kill and abduct minorities in Iraq and Syria.
"Let no one consider themselves to be the 'armor' of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression," the pontiff said in his address to President Bujar Nishani of the majority Muslim country and other officials and religious leaders at Tirana's presidential palace.
"May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman," The Associated Press quoted Francis as saying. "This is especially the case in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted and where religious differences are being distorted and exploited." more >>