The Vatican has clarified in a statement that despite a recent news story of Pope Francis blessing Italian author Francesca Pardi, a lesbian who has written a children's book with positive depictions of gay families, the Roman Catholic Church's doctrine opposing gay marriage has not changed.
"The blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was directed to the person, not at any possible teachings that are not in line with the doctrine of the church … which hasn't changed a bit as the Holy Father has repeated even recently," said Vatican spokesman the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, according to Religion News Service on Monday.
Pardi, who lives in Milan, said that she wrote to Francis and was surprised when she received a letter back, in which the pope's staff conveys his blessing. more >>
Christians in India marked the seventh anniversary of the Orissa attacks on Monday, praying for close to 100 Christians who were massacred by Hindu extremists who were pressuring them to convert. An Archbishop has said the faith of Orissa's Christians has grown stronger in the face of persecution.
The Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, His Exc. Mgr. John Barwa SVD, told Fides News Agency that Christians "gather in prayer for the victims, reiterating, all together, our common commitment to promoting peace, justice and hope. The faith of Christians in Orissa has become stronger in the face of persecution."
The major attacks on August 31, 2008, in Orissa also left close to 56,000 Christians homeless after 300 churches and 6,000 homes were raided and looted. The Hindu mob reportedly organized against Christians who they accused of converting Indians to Christianity. more >>
Where do we start?
The murder on live TV of two human beings whose lives mattered? Casual luncheon discussion about the cutting up and sale of the body parts of babies whose lives mattered not because of their achievements but because of their intrinsic worth? The slaughter of people in a Charleston church prayer meeting whose lives mattered?
Then there's another scale to weigh the present agony: Iran getting a nuclear bomb; the unspeakable atrocities of people believing they are acting under divine authority; a secularist rage to push free religious expression to the very edge of culture, and then eliminate it altogether; mayhem in the streets; hate-driven strife; the collapse of marriage, and with it the family, the fundamental institution for civilizing a society; and apostasy in many churches. more >>
Leading evangelist Franklin Graham took to Facebook last Friday to voice his disapproval with the University of Tennessee's new practice of encouraging students and faculty to use gender-neutral pronouns like "ze" and "zir" instead of gender specific pronouns like "she" and "her."
In a memo posted to the website for the University of Tennessee's Office for Diversity and Inclusion last week by the director of the school's Pride Center, Donna Braquet, it was advised that members of the university community should begin using gender neutral pronouns such as "ze," "hir," "hirs," "zir," zirs," "xem," and "xyr" to replace standard gender binary pronouns like "he," "she," "his," "her" and "hers."
The purpose behind using gender neutral pronouns, Braquet wrote, is to create a campus environment that is "welcoming and inclusive for all" as fall semester classes have started this month. more >>
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a statue of Jesus Christ located on a mountaintop memorial to World War II veterans is constitutional.
In a Monday decision, the judges upheld a district court ruling that allowed for "Big Mountain Jesus" to remain at Flathead National Forest near Kalispell, Montana.
The judges concluded that while the 60-year-old statue did have a religious appearance, the display has some purposes that are secular in nature. more >>
BJ Thompson, a former member of ReachLife ministries, an organization which serves as the outreach arm of Reach Records, recently expressed his concerns about the state of Christian hip-hop.
Speaking with the Christian rap media outlet Rapzilla in an interview posted last week, Thompson, who once served in ministry with Lecrae and other Reach artists, warned that some artists "can be a representative in Christian culture and not know Christ."
"Overall I'm excited. There's a growing number of artists who are very expressive, creative. We see a lot of professionalism in Christian hip-hop. ... But the thing that alarms me is something that's unique about Christian music or culture is that you can be a representative in Christian culture and not know Christ. And so, one thing that concerns me about new artists is that we made the platform, the spotlight of Christianity more attractive than Christ," said Thompson to Rapzilla. more >>