Sweden has become the first major European Union member to officially recognize the state of Palestine. The controversial move has been strongly criticized by Israel, which recalled its ambassador in protest.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "is looking for a way not to return to the negotiating table, and Sweden just gave him a perfect excuse," an Israeli Foreign Ministry source told The Times of Israel.
The source added that Sweden's recognition of Palestine could destabilize fragile relations in the Middle East, where a long term ceasefire between Israel and militant group Hamas from earlier this year is still holding. more >>
Evolution is not inconsistent with God, said Pope Francis during an unveiling of a bust of his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday.
"Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation," Francis said. "The scientist," he continued, "must [nevertheless] be moved by a trust in the idea that nature hides, within her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities that it is the task of intellect and freedom to discover and actuate, in order to achieve the [kind of] development that is in the design of the Creator."
The pope, who backed the Roman Catholic Church's openness to evolution, added that scientific advancements can be used for the benefit of people. more >>
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine are set to hold separatist elections on Nov. 2 aimed at legitimizing rebel leaders who are at war with the central government. Russia has announced that it will recognize the results of the elections, while Ukraine and Western governments have spoken out against them.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said elections "will be important to legitimize the authorities there," BBC News reported on Tuesday. "We expect the elections will go ahead as agreed, and we will of course recognize the results," he added.
Rebel groups have captured a number of cities across the eastern parts of the country, and have engaged in a series of deadly clashes with Ukraine's army despite a ceasefire that was agreed on in early September. more >>
Schools in Britain, including those run by Christian groups, have been asked to comply with a new government policy promoting "British values" by inviting Imams and leaders from other religions to take assemblies. At least one school is facing closure, and has urged the government to revise the controversial rules.
An official body that inspects schools in Britain has told Trinity Christian School in Reading in England's Berkshire country that it must comply with the revised Independent School Standards regarding spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, else its continuation could be at risk, according to Daily Mail.
John Charles, chairman of governors at the school, has written to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, urging revision of the new regulations, which are aimed at combating extremism in the country. more >>
John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, has said that he's "deeply ashamed" over allegations of child abuse by a former dean in a recently published report that has revealed "systemic failures" by the Church of England in dealing with such cases.
"I have already been in contact with those who gave evidence to the inquiry regarding their alleged abuse by Robert Waddington. As I have said to them, I am deeply ashamed that the church was not vigilant enough to ensure that these things did not happen, failing both to watch and to act, where children were at serious risk," York said, according to The Guardian on Wednesday.
The report by Judge Sally Cahill made abuse allegations against the late Very Rev. Robert Waddington, formerly dean of Manchester. It stated that at least two men made claims in 1999 and sometime in 2003-2004 that they had been abused as children. The acting Archbishop of York at the time, Lord Hope of Thorne, and other church officials were criticized for not acting on the allegations, and therefore putting other children at risk, BBC noted. more >>
Dutch Christians have boycotted a Netherlands church for displaying an exhibit they believe encourages anti-Semitism.
Named "Room No. 4" the exhibit was brought to Utrecht's Domkerk Church, one of the Netherlands best-known places of worship, by the Dutch Coalition for Palestinian Children in Israeli Detention. The exhibit features adult models tied up in ropes to portray jailed Palestinian children who are in Israeli detention facilities.
Earlier this month, Hebe Kohlbrugge, a member of the church, joined other Christians in the protest by boycotting the exhibit due to what he believes to be a permeating anti-Jewish sentiment from the piece. more >>