Israel's Education Ministry announced on Sunday that for the first time ever evolution will be taught in the middle school core curriculum, which up until now offered only the biblical account of the origins of humanity. Ultra-orthodox groups have responded with mixed feelings on the matter, however, with some calling it a "mistake."
"Until now, there has been no discussion on the topic and students were not taught that the multitude of species is the result of processes of development among plants and animals," Professional Committee Chairwoman Professor Nava Ben-Zvi told Israel Hayom.
"The entire evolutionary perspective had not been written down [for them], as with the topics of ecology and the behavior of animals. It is important to explain how so many species came to be." more >>
Pope Francis slipped a Spanish version of the Lord's Prayer into Jerusalem's Western Wall during his visit to the Holy Land this week, according to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which published the note.
During his visit to Jerusalem this past Monday, journalists photographed Francis saying a quick prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City before slipping a note in between the stones of the wall, as is common tradition. After Francis departed from the Holy Land on Monday, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation published the contents of his note, handwritten on official papal letterhead and signed by the simple name "Francis."
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Franciscus," the letter read, translated from its original writing in Spanish. more >>
A minor, accidental fire broke out at a church in Bethlehem on Tuesday at the place where Christians believe Jesus was born.
Father Ibrahim Faltas, an official at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told The Associated Press that the fire was accidentally started Tuesday when a candle ignited curtains in the church's grotto. Although the fire was quickly put out, there was reportedly some smoke damage to the walls. The grotto is believed to be the area where Jesus was born, and the church is built over the holy location.
"The curtains around the grotto caught fire from a candle and that is all that happened," Father Faltas told The Associated Press, adding "It was not arson." more >>
Pope Francis wrapped up his visit to the Middle East by making final stops in Bethlehem and Israel on Sunday and Monday, paying a special surprise visit to the Wall of Bethlehem that separates Israel from the West Bank and offering quick prayer while at the wall.
Francis reportedly stopped at the wall for four minutes, leaning his head in to touch the stone on the wall next to a graffiti message that read "Free Palestine." He also placed his hand on the wall to pray during the unexpected stop.
The wall, also known as the Israeli West Bank barrier, was built by Israel to separate itself from the West Bank and the Palestinian population. Father Federico Lombardi, a spokesperson for the Vatican, told The Guardian that even members of Francis' own entourage were unaware that the Pope would make his stop at the separation wall. more >>
WASHINGTON – The father of United States Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has stated that he considers religion and government "interrelated."
At an event sponsored by the Family Research Council and featuring various notable conservative Christian leaders, Pastor Rafael Cruz told The Christian Post that religion and politics are connected. Cruz compared the fate of the United States to that of Ancient Israel when it came to the relationship between religious belief and public policy.
"When Judah had a righteous king or Israel had a righteous king, the whole country followed the Lord. When Israel or Judah had a wicked king, the whole country went to idolatry," said Cruz. more >>
Orthodox Jews gathered at the site of the Christian Last Supper near Jerusalem on Monday ahead of a visit by Pope Francis, arguing that allowing Christians to worship at the site violates their beliefs.
Pope Francis is expected to hold a mass at the Last Supper site, known as the "Upper Room" on Mount Zion, when he visits Jerusalem from May 24-26. About 200 ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered near the site on Monday to protest Francis' planned mass, arguing that allowing the Vatican to hold a Catholic mass there denigrates the Jewish religion. Jews regard the site as being the Tomb of King David, as well as the site of a 16th Century mosque.