World Council of Churches general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Saturday to discuss church unity and the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
Benedict suggested allowing the Bible to be the centerpiece in theological discussion and reflection as a way to strengthen visible Christian unity, according to Tveit. It was the first time Tveit had a meeting with the pope since he assumed the role of WCC general secretary in January. But it was the second time the ecumenical leader visited the Vatican this year.
“We had a very open and friendly conversation,” said Tveit. “He emphasized in a very kind and also a very strong way the importance of the World Council of Churches’ work and the ministry I am called to do as general secretary.” more >>
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has called on the European Court of Human Rights to uphold the principles of freedom and tolerance ahead of next week’s decision on whether schools in Italy will be allowed to display crucifixes in public school classrooms.
Italy is seeking to overturn the ECHR’s ruling last November, which banned public schools from displaying crucifixes in their classrooms on the grounds that doing so contradicted the right of parents to educate their children in line with their own convictions.
The case will be heard in a public hearing on June 30, although a final decision is not expected until later in the year. more >>
Pope Benedict XVI drew the Catholic Church’s Year for Priests to an official close Friday with another apology for the abuse of children by Catholic priests.
Addressing 15,000 priests from around the world in St. Peter’s Square yesterday, the pope begged God’s forgiveness for the “abuse of the little ones” as he admitted that a year intended to celebrate priests ended quite differently.
“In the very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light,” he said. more >>
The Greek Orthodox Church has come out in opposition to a ban on crucifixes in classrooms in Italy.
It wants to see Christians across Europe unite in opposition to the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last week which stated that the presence of crucifixes in the classroom violates religious and educational freedoms.
The head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, echoed the outcry from the Catholic Church in Italy when he said that the EHCR had ignored the role of Christianity in Europe’s history and development, as reported by the BBC. He argued that majorities, not only minorities, had rights. more >>
The Italian government will appeal a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which decided this past week that hanging of crucifixes school classrooms violates religious and education freedoms.
Italy's Minister of Public Instruction Mariastella Gelmini and Minister of the Interior Claudio Scajola told media this week that the state will appeal Tuesday’s decision, arguing that the cross in Italy has become more than a symbol of the Church. They say it has also become a symbol of Italian and European history and tradition.
“The crucifix is a global symbol of love, docility and peace,” Scajola said in an e-mailed statement. more >>
Health and drugs authorities in Italy approved the use of the abortion drug RU486 late Thursday after years of debate.
Though the Italian Pharmaceuticals Agency (AIFA) decided after a meeting that the drug cannot be sold in drug stores and can only be administered by doctors in a hospital, the ruling drew immediate protests from the Vatican, which said it would excommunicate doctors and nurses who prescribed the drug and any patients who used it.
The Italian drug agency said the pill can be taken up to the seventh week of pregnancy. more >>