Pope Francis has listed in an end of the year Christmas message the 12 virtues that he says Catholic leaders need in order to guide the Church.
Speaking before the Roman Curia, the administrative unit of the Vatican, the pontiff called on leaders to "return to the essentials" of the faith, Vatican Radio reported on Monday.
Francis noted in his speech that last year he made a list of the "diseases" that affect the Church, and now he wanted to focus on a "catalogue of needed virtues" that would allow the Curia to serve the Church more faithfully. more >>
The Alliance Defending Freedom legal group recently issued a letter to officials in Orange, Texas, encouraging the city to keep its Nativity scene on public display despite pressure from a local atheist group.
The letter, sent to city officials last week, argues that despite the demands from a local atheist organization, the city has the legal right to keep its Nativity scene without allowing an atheist holiday scene to be displayed next to it.
"Government officials do not need to give in to the demands of atheist groups that misunderstand or misrepresent the First Amendment and how the courts have applied it to Christmas displays," ADF Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs said in the letter. "The courts have been clear that the government can erect Christmas displays, including Nativity scenes, without having to honor demands that atheist displays also be allowed on government property. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has already addressed this exact issue." more >>
Tens of thousands of Christians have signed an online petition directed at Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to stop a ceremony in which satanists plan to pour blood over a Virgin Mary statue on Christmas Eve.
Satanist Adam Daniels has received a permit allowing him to pour costume blood over a Virgin Mary statue outside of St. Joseph Old Cathedral on Christmas Eve as a sign of protest against the Roman Catholic Church.
"The purpose of the blood is to add another layer of corruption to Mary, which is an emblem of the Catholic Church," Daniels asserted. more >>
More than 1,800 people experienced a Missouri congregation's first drive-thru interactive Nativity last weekend that included several live animals and actors portraying Roman soldiers.
Drivers were handed a coin to later give to Roman soldiers as a tax to enter Bethlehem, going through a recreated biblical era town that included a bustling marketplace.
"At the gate, Roman soldiers requested their tax token to enter into the city. As the visitors drove to the city gate, they witnessed folks in biblical dress walking to and from the city. Booths [were set up] to feture a basket shop, bread shop, scarves and jewelry shop, and a carpenter's shop. All were manned by characters hawking and showing off their wares," said Bryan Ridenour, student pastor at North Nixa Baptist Church, who told The Christian Post that months back lead Pastor Jerry Francisco came up with the idea to host a drive-thru Nativity for the community. more >>
Christians in Tripoli are finding solace in Christmas carols amid their fears in the war-torn capital of Libya.
Since the ouster of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, fears for the Tripoli residents' safety have increased and the jihadists' reported slaughtering of Christians in Libya only served to worsen those fears. However, community members continue to visit Saint Francis church during the day off every Friday to pray for each other, according to an AFP report published on Your Middle East.
In August 2014, an Islamist militia group overran Tripoli and caused the government to escape to the far east side of the country. While most Westerners left Libya after that incident, there are still some workers from Asia, Middle East, and Africa who have opted to stay because of lack of stable income in their hometowns, the report relays. more >>
Christians in Gaza are rapidly disappearing amid the Israeli blockade of the Strip and the lack of employment opportunities.
The worshippers at the ancient Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza believe that they may be the last Christians in Gaza because many of them have decided to leave the place, some in large groups. A few years ago, there were 3,000 Christians in the region but today there are only about 1,200, according to USA Today.
While Israel usually does not allow anyone to leave the Palestinian area, some Christians are permitted to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem during Easter and Christmas. Some Christians are taking advantage of the Christmas season to leave Gaza and begin a new life in another place. If the situation in Gaza continues, religious groups in the area could vanish entirely within 20 years, the report details. more >>