UN expert warns that believers and minorities are facing increasing discrimination and violence. Religious freedoms are steadily being eroded across large parts of Asia and religious fundamentalism is on the rise, the United Nations' special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has warned.
News in Ecumenism
Both Moscow and Rome should be satisfied at the outcome of the visit on 30 May to the Vatican by a delegation of senior figures in the Russian Orthodox Church. Pope Francis made it clear that he is still seeking closer and warmer relations with Russia, even at a time of growing East-West tensions, and is hoping for real co-operation with the powerful Russian church in the humanitarian field and in helping Christians who face persecution in the Middle East.
The 1,400-year-old schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims has rarely been as toxic as it is today, feeding wars and communal strife in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. But what lies behind the Sunni-Shia split?
Joined by heads of Christian Churches in the Middle East, Pope Francis Saturday condemned the “complicit silence” and indifference of the world to the conflicts tearing the region apart, and urged Christians to pray for peace.
Pope Francis is to meet with leaders of Orthodox, Catholic and other Christian communities from throughout the Middle East in Bari, Italy this weekend to pray for peace and show solidarity with persecuted Christians.
Pope Francis has relentlessly pursued joint ecumenical efforts with the hope of achieving Christian unity. For that reason, the very man who often avoids trips to centers of power made a special daylong “ecumenical pilgrimage” to Geneva, Switzerland o 21 June to mark the 70anniversary of World Council of Churches (WCC).
As the holiest month of the year, it is a crucial period for practising Muslims and underpins some of the religion's core values, such as prayer and giving to charity. Overall Ramadan is a time for Muslims to exercise self-discipline and restraint both spiritually and physically, as well as empathising with the plight of the poor.
The visit to World Council of Churches (WCC) headquarters is believed to be the main focus of the one-day papal trip. The Vatican is expected to confirm the visit at a press conference on Friday when Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC secretary general, will highlight initiatives to mark the World Council of Church's 70th anniversary.
Father Nikodemus Schnabel OSB, who also serves as spokesman for the Benedictines in Jerusalem, says the deeper reason behind the unprecedented action to close Christianity’s holiest site was to preserve the vision and nature of Jerusalem as a holy place for all believers.
The Austrian summit of religious leaders was organised by the Vienna-based KAICIID centre (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) established by Saudi Arabia and with the Holy See, Austria and Spain as founder members. Its board comprises members from all the major religions.
Hindu attacks on Christians in India have doubled in the past year as part of an unprecedented trend to portray Christians as acting against the state, its religious tolerance and national ethos, according to a newly released report. The country recorded 736 incidents of attacks against Christians in 2017 against 348 in 2016.
Christian leaders see the trend as part of a Hindu strategy to portray Christians as lawbreakers who do not respect Indian traditions. Militants have alleged that Hindu students, who are a majority at church-run schools, are not able to worship the goddess of learning, Saraswati.
Venerable Wimalarathana Thera attempted to build interreligious harmony in post-civil war Sri Lanka. He was also the vice president of the Congress of Religions, a body of national religious leaders.Retired Archbishop Oswald Gomis, a member of the Congress of Religions, said that Venerable Wimalarathana Thera was associated with good number of Catholic priests, Anglican ministers and also Muslims and Hindus.
“Unity is something to be discovered, not created.” The lesson is clear. “In Christ we are already united,” he says. “Unity isn’t something we create but something we discover – that we are already one in Christ. It is this discovery that changes attitudes.”
The town of Mottola in Italy has re-discovered relics of its patron saint, Thomas Becket. The martyrdom of St Thomas Becket in his cathedral at Canterbury shocked the Christian world in the Middle Ages. Immediately after his death, miracles began occurring at his tomb, and the English Archbishop soon became one of the most popular saints in the Church.
The Koran says that Mary, a young virgin, is told by God she will produce a “pure son.” When the birth pangs come she retires to a palm tree. Suffering alone (Joseph is not mentioned), God tells her to shake the tree, from which fresh dates fall. Again there is a parallel: in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, when the holy family stops off on the way to Egypt.