religion

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Thai monks clash with police on fifth day of high-profile temple raid

Several monks were injured early Monday in clashes with Thai police at a Buddhist temple where thousands of officers have been searching for a former abbot wanted on money laundering and land encroachment charges.

Ikea erases women from family life in catalogue for Orthodox Jews

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has released a new catalogue in Israel with one crucial aspect missing - there are no women in the pictures.

Australia's Catholic Church paid 276 million to abuse victims

Australia's Catholic Church has paid 276 million Australian dollars (212 million US dollars) in compensation to thousands of people who were victims of sexual abuse by priests and other members of the church, an inquest was told on Thursday.

Gay rights activists protest Church of England 'homophobia'

Gay rights campaigners gathered outside the Church of England synod in London on Wednesday to protest a report which "defends heterosexual superiority."

Indonesian mayor raids shops selling condoms ahead of Valentine's Day

The mayor of a city on Indonesia's Sulawesi island raided convenience stores selling condoms on the eve of Valentine's Day, local media reported Tuesday.

Israel reopens 4th century church after arson attack by radical Jews

A famed 4th century church in northern Israel was officially reopened Sunday nearly two years after an arson attack by Jewish extremists.

Report: Pope 'not losing any sleep' over Vatican corruption

Pope Francis knows there is corruption in the Vatican but he doesn't lose any sleep over it, according to a report out Thursday in Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

British Muslim women seeking to end marriage turn to sharia councils

Many in Britain condemn sharia councils as parallel courts, although few understand how they really work. In addition to providing advice on living Islamically, they play a crucial role in helping women obtain a religious divorce.

Pope Francis denounces persecution of Rohingya Muslims

Pope Francis on Wednesday denounced the persecution of the Rohingya people of Myanmar, just because they are Muslim.

Australian inquiry details extent of "shocking" Catholic child abuse

Allegations of child sexual abuse in Australian Catholic churches and institutions were Monday described as "shocking" and "indefensible" during a public inquiry in Sydney.

Reis Kavazovic: Terrorists will be defeated, but what after that

The defeat of those who are carrying out terror in the name of Islam is definitely certain, however, there are reasons to fear, in the current world imbued with hatred and prejudices, of what will fill the space that has been so far occupied by terrorist groups, the head of the Islamic community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Reis Husein Kavazovic, has said in an interview for the FENA news agency of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2,000 protest against planned Austrian headscarf restrictions

Planned government restrictions for full-face veils and headscarves drew some 2,000 protesters to the streets in central Vienna on Saturday, according to police.

'Pray for Arnold' on Apprentice ratings, Trump tells prayer breakfast

US President Donald Trump told thousands gathered for a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington that they should pray for former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has taken over Trump's television show The Celebrity Apprentice.

Anti-Semitic incidents jump 36 per cent in Britain, group says

Recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Britain rose 36 per cent last year, fuelled by factors including the Brexit referendum, a Jewish support group said on Thursday.

Norway approves new liturgy for same-sex church marriages

The Church of Norway on Monday approved a new liturgy for all church marriages including same-sex weddings, following last year's decision by the country's largest religious denomination to approve same-sex weddings in church.

Maltese bishops' communion guidelines stir controversy, confusion

The Maltese bishops' new guidelines that make it possible for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion have triggered confusion among priests and criticism from conservative factions, local media reported on Sunday.

Documentary about 2 Croat priests killed by Albanian Communists shown in Montengro

A documentary about two Croat Catholic priests -- Friar Serafin Glasnovic Kodic and Rev. Anton Muzic-- who were killed by the Albanian Communist regime and who were beatified as members of the Blessed Martyrs of Albania by Pope Francis in November 2016, was shown in Kotor, Montenegro, on Friday evening.

Serbs plunge into icy waters for Orthodox holiday

Serbian Christian Orthodox believers - and maybe a few adventurers - celebrated the holiday of the Epiphany on Thursday by plunging into icy rivers and lakes and racing for the Epiphany cross.

German artist fined 700 euros for doing push-ups on church altar

A 38-year-old man was fined 700 euros (750 dollars) by a German court on Tuesday for disrupting the practice of religion and creating a domestic disturbance by doing push-ups on a church altar.

Yemeni jailed for 21 years in Saudi for insulting Islam and monarchy

A Saudi court has sentenced a Yemeni resident of the kingdom to 21 years imprisonment for questioning and insulting tenets of the Islamic faith and insulting the kingdom's rulers, according to a judgement made public on Sunday. 

Abbas meets Pope for Palestinian embassy opening in Vatican

Pope Francis on Saturday received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shortly before the opening of a Palestinian embassy in the Vatican City, the Vatican confirmed.

Court demands grounds for ban on female readers at key Jerusalem site

Jewish reform groups welcomed a ruling by Israel's highest court on Wednesday, which called for an explanation on why women are forbidden from reading the Torah at a Jerusalem holy site.

PM receives head of Islamic community in Croatia

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Tuesday received the head of the Islamic Community in Croatia, Mufti Aziz Hasanovic, and expressed his satisfaction with Croatia's relations with the Islamic community, adding that the model of arranging these relations could serve as an example to other European countries.

Millions of devotees join Philippines' annual Black Nazarene feast

Nearly 3 million mostly barefoot devotees on Monday joined the Philippines' largest religious event to honour a centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ despite warnings that Islamist extremists might attack the gathering.

Ethiopia jails 20 Muslims on terrorism-related charges

An Ethiopian court on Tuesday sentenced 20 alleged Islamists to up to five and a half years in prison on terrorism-related charges, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.

Hanukkah marked by menorah lighting in Zagreb's Main Square

A ceremony of menorah lighting in Zagreb's Main Square on Saturday evening was held to celebrate this year's eight-day Hanukkah holiday in Croatia, with the president of the Jewish organisation "Menora", Rabbi Pinhas Zaklos, and Mayor Milan Bandic kindling together the eighth light.

Vatican welcomed 4 million visitors in 2016

In 2016, 4 million visitors travelled to Vatican City for religious events, the Prefecture of the Papal Household announced on Thursday.

3 parties against Sarajevo University decision on no lectures on Friday afternoon

Three left-leaning political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday strongly criticised the decision by the Sarajevo University Senate that no lectures would be given during Jumu'ah, a congregational prayer that Muslims hold every Friday.

Police withdraw from stand-off at controversial Thai temple

Thai police on Tuesday called off a raid on a controversial Buddhist temple until the new year, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha told reporters on Tuesday.

In Christmas message of peace, Pope speaks of suffering in Syria

Pope Francis called for peace on Earth and consideration for the victims of war and terrorism in his Christmas message given from the loggia of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Sunday.

Security heightened at Cologne Cathedral for midnight mass

Bag searches were conducted for the first time ever at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany ahead of traditional Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Closed doors breed violence, top Roman Catholic cleric says

Closed doors and defended borders are metaphors for fear that breed violence, the top Roman Catholic cleric in Jerusalem said in his midnight Christmas homily in Bethlehem.

Pope Francis' Christmas Eve message: remember the needy children

Pope Francis called on worshippers to remember less fortunate children during a Christmas Eve mass in St Peter's Basilica.

Thousands gather in Bethlehem for Christmas festivities

Tens of thousands of Christians from around the world have gathered on Saturday in the Holy Land to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem.

Temple of the Jedi Order is not a religion, British authorities say

The Temple of the Jedi Order is not a religion, British charity authorities said on Monday, after years of tongue-in-cheek efforts by fans of the Star Wars faith to have it recognized alongside other religions.

Majority of Germans not going to church this Christmas, survey shows

The majority of German citizens will not be going to church over the Christmas holidays, according to survey results released on Saturday.

Pope gets 70,000 emails, meets homeless and mulls old age on birthday

Pope Francis mused about old age on Saturday, as he divided time on his 80th birthday between sitting down for breakfast with the homeless, leading Mass with cardinals and holding regular work engagements.

Australian archbishop quits after admitting child abuse failures

The Anglican archbishop of the Western Australian city of Perth stepped down late Thursday, four months after admitting he had failed to inform police about alleged child abuse by a senior cleric.

Survey: France leads in huge overestimation of Muslim populations

France leads the way as people in most Western nations overestimate the size and growth of their countries' Muslim populations by "staggering" margins, a report said on Wednesday.

Vatican sets up emails to send 80th birthday wishes to Pope Francis

People who want to wish a happy birthday to Pope Francis, who turns 80 on Saturday, will be able to send him an email and may even write their message in Latin, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

One killed, 15 injured in Hindu-Muslim clash in Nepal

A man was killed and 15 people were injured in a clash between Hindu and Muslim groups in south-western Nepal near the Indian border, local police said Tuesday.

Jakarta's Christian governor goes on trial in blasphemy case

The Christian governor of the Indonesian capital went on trial Tuesday to face charges of blasphemy over remarks perceived as insulting to Muslims. 

Reports: Intelligence warns of Saudis exporting extremism to Germany

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have been providing increasing levels of support to an ultraconservative branch of Islam in order for it to take root in Germany, German media reported, citing an intelligence report.

Vatican places migrants' boat in 2016 Christmas Nativity scene

The European migration crisis features at the centre of the Vatican's Christmas Nativity scene this year, in a display that will be inaugurated at the Vatican's St Peter's Square on Friday.

Today's Europe is lacking forward-looking leaders, Pope Francis says

Europe today has no forward-looking leaders, according to Pope Francis, who hailed the postwar generation of politicians who laid the foundations of the European Union in an interview on Wednesday.

At least 200,000 rally in Jakarta to demand governor's arrest

More than 200,000 conservative Indonesian Muslims filled a square in Jakarta on Friday to demand the arrest of the city's Christian governor over remarks they perceived as insulting to Islam. 

Pastor shocks South Africans by "healing" people with insecticide

A South African pastor has sparked a storm on social media by claiming to heal people with insecticide, local media reported Monday.

Pope Francis indefinitely extends priests' right to pardon abortion

Pope Francis on Monday indefinitely extended a provision that makes it easier for Catholics to seek a pardon for abortion, while insisting that the practice remains a "grave sin" for the Catholic Church.

Pope laments "virus of polarization" on naming new cardinals

Pope Francis warned of a "virus of polarization and hostility" within the Catholic Church and broader society on appointing 17 new cardinals in the Vatican on Saturday.

Thousands march for tolerance in Indonesia amid row over blasphemy

Around 3,000 protesters rallied in the Indonesian capital on Saturday calling for unity and tolerance, amid rising ethnic and religious tensions sparked by allegations of blasphemy against the city's Christian governor.

Jakarta's Christian governor named suspect in blasphemy case

Indonesian police on Wednesday named Jakarta's Christian governor a suspect in a blasphemy case over accusations that he insulted the Koran, amid pressure from Muslim groups for his prosecution. 

Cuba grants pardon to 787 prisoners at the request of Pope Francis

Cuba is to grant pardons to 787 prisoners in response to a call from Roman Catholic Pope Francis regarding the Holy Year of Mercy, the official Cuban Communist Party daily Granma said on its front page Tuesday.

Pope celebrates Mass to round off pilgrimage of homeless to Rome

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Vatican on Sunday to mark the end of a pilgrimage to Rome by 4,000 homeless people from all over Europe, denouncing their exclusion from society in his homily.

Foundation stone laid for Islamic cultural centre in Sisak

About 2,000 Muslim believers from Croatia and neighbouring countries, religious dignitaries, state and local officials, diplomats and other guests gathered in Sisak, some 60 kilometres southeast of Zagreb, for the laying of a foundation stone for a future Islamic cultural centre, the fourth such centre to be built in Croatia.

Pope meets veteran Italian abortion, divorce campaigner Emma Bonino

Emma Bonino, a former Italian foreign minister who successfully campaigned for the legalization of abortion and divorce in the 1970s, was granted an audience by Pope Francis, the Vatican said Tuesday.

"We are all sinners:" Pope leads jubilee Mass with 1,000 prisoners

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter's Basilica in front of more than 1,000 prison inmates on Sunday, in one of the final events of the Jubilee of Mercy, an 11-month Catholic festival that wraps up in two weeks.

Vatican chastises Catholic radio for "offensive" Italy quake remarks

Suggestions by an ultraconservative Catholic radio network that Italy has been punished by God with devastating earthquakes after legalizing gay unions are offensive and scandalous, a top Vatican official has said.

Indonesian president blames political opponents for rally violence

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Saturday blamed political opponents for the violence that broke out the day before at a protest by Muslims in Jakarta demanding the arrest of the city's governor.

Clashes as thousands rally against Jakarta governor

Indonesian police fired tear gas on Friday to disperse Muslim protestors demanding the capital's ethnic Chinese and Christian governor be arrested over comments perceived as insulting to Islam.

Bangladesh deploys paramilitary forces after Muslims attack Hindus

Paramilitary forces have been deployed to curb religious tension in Bangladesh after a Muslim crowd vandalised Hindu homes and temples in an eastern district on the weekend, officials said Thursday.

Vatican: Pope's Jubilee has attracted more than 20 million pilgrims

The Jubilee of Mercy, a year-long Catholic festival due to wrap up in two weeks, has attracted more than 20 million pilgrims to Rome, a Vatican official said Thursday, dismissing claims it had been "a flop."

Zagreb archbishop appointed to Congregation for Divine Worship

Pope Francis has appointed Zagreb Archbishop Cardinal Josip Bozanic as a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for another term, the Zagreb Archdiocese said in a press release on Wednesday.

All Saints' Day being marked throughout Croatia

All Saints' Day is being marked throughout Croatia on Tuesday, with visits to cemeteries and absolution services held for the souls of the departed, and prayer wakes called Holywin (Holiness Wins) were held and in many churches in the night between Monday and Tuesday.

Pope Francis ends historic visit to Sweden after celebrating Mass

Pope Francis ended a historic two-day visit to Sweden on Tuesday by celebrating Mass in the southern city of Malmo, and calling for more unity among Christians.

Pope, Lutheran leaders commit to unity at Reformation commemoration

Pope Francis and Lutheran church leaders pledged to work for greater unity, push for justice and alleviate human suffering during joint commemorations of the Protestant Reformation in Sweden on Monday.

Pope, Lutheran leaders to meet in Sweden for Reformation anniversary

Pope Francis and Lutheran church leaders will commemorate once one of the most divisive events in the history of Christianity on Monday. The upcoming anniversary year gives them a chance to signal more unity between Catholics and Protestants.

Pope: "disconcerting" to see male and female roles being confused

Male and female roles must be clearly defined according to traditional Christian models of family life if society is to thrive, Pope Francis warned on Thursday.

Australian police fly to Vatican to interview senior cardinal

Australian police flew to the Vatican to interview a top cardinal over allegations of sexual assault that had been made against him.

Vatican: Cremating the dead is OK, but scattering of ashes is not

Catholics must not scatter the ashes of the dead or keep them at home, the Vatican reiterated in guidelines Tuesday, which confirmed that while cremations are not banned, traditional burials are preferable.

New FM calls for building pluralistic society in Croatia

Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Davor Ivo Stier of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) calls for building a pluralistic society in Croatia, based on values of dialogue and tolerance.

India’s key Muslim shrine to lift ban on entry to women

A trust that runs Mumbai's Haji Ali mosque said on Monday it will revoke a ban on women entering the inner sanctum of the shrine, in accordance with court orders.

World's highest cathedral at risk amid stream of public urination

A stream of men relieving themselves on the world's highest cathedral - the Ulm Minster in the southern German city of Ulm - continues unabated despite the imposition of fines, endangering the building's integrity, city officials warn.

Protesters call for termination of Croatia-Holy See agreements

Around 400 people rallied in downtown Zagreb on Saturday to demand the termination of the agreements between Croatia and the Holy See which they said were harmful and negated provisions of the Constitution that define Croatia as a secular state.

Dalai Lama calls for more tolerance in speech in Slovakia

The Dalai Lama in Bratislava called for more tolerance during a public speech in Slovakia on Sunday, after a meeting with Slovak President Andrej Kiska.

Pope canonizes seven new saints, including 14-year-old martyr

Pope Francis on Sunday canonized six men and a woman,

Muslims in Jakarta protest after Christian governor's Koran comments

Thousands of hardline Muslims in the Indonesian capital rallied against the city's ethnic Chinese and Christian governor for comments perceived as denigrating the Koran.

Pope denounces Christians who don't want refugees as "hypocrites"

People who call themselves Christians but do not want refugees at their door are hypocrites, Pope Francis said Thursday, amid reports of new tragedies involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Report: Islamic State destroys Assyrian church in Iraq

Islamic State extremists bombarded an Assyrian Church in the town of Karemlis in Iraq's north-western Nineveh province near Mosul city, Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported Monday.

Norway moves to ban veils in schools

Norway is to prepare guidelines banning female students from wearing full-face veils, the country's education minister said Thursday.

Myanmar sentences Dutchman to prison for religious insult

A Dutch tourist who was detained by police in Myanmar after he shut down a broadcast of a Buddhist sermon was sentenced to three months in prison on Wednesday.

Pope says he invited transsexual to Vatican, urges mercy towards gays

Pope Francis said Sunday he has made outreach gestures towards gays throughout his career within the Catholic clergy and even invited a transsexual for a private chat at the Vatican.

Muslim refugees "a challenge" for German society, minister says

The rising number of Muslims living in Germany as a result of the latest wave of refugees is "a challenge for the majority of society," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wrote in an opinion piece for the Sunday edition of Die Welt newspaper.

Serial attacker of church buildings in Rome apprehended by police

A man who targeted four Catholic Church buildings in central Rome over the last 24 hours has been apprehended, Italian police said Saturday.

Bulgaria bans burkas and other garments covering the face

Bulgaria on Friday passed a nationwide law banning garments that cover the face, including burkas, from most public places.

Preacher to serve 8 months for incitement over Temple Mount sermon

An Islamic preacher was sentenced on Sunday to eight months in prison for incitement over a 2014 sermon he gave at the al-Aqsa Mosque at Temple Mount, according to a court statement.

Merkel sees burqa as religious freedom but backs limited ban

Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out on Wednesday against the idea of a complete ban in Germany on the full-face veil worn by Muslim women, saying that wearing it was part of religious freedom.

Pope calls on all religions to condemn terrorist attacks

Pope Francis called on all religions to condemn terrorist attacks carried out in the name of god during a mass held for a Catholic priest killed in France in July.

Reis Kavazovic says Bosnia cannot tolerate fear of war again

It cannot be tolerated that people in Bosnia today again fear a war because of the same threats that were made before the bloody conflicts of two decades ago, the head of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reis Husein Kavazovic, said in Sarajevo on Monday.

Norwegian hairdresser fined for discriminating against Muslim woman

A Norwegian court on Monday fined a female hairdresser for discriminating against a Muslim woman who wore a headscarf.

Muslim pilgrims start stone-throwing ritual amid tightened security

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims started on Monday a stone-throwing ritual as part of the annual Hajj pilgrimage just outside Mecca, where hundreds were killed in a stampede at last year’s event.

Muslim pilgrims pack Mount Arafat as Hajj reaches its climax

Nearly 2 million Muslims on Sunday packed Mount Arafat near the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia marking the peak of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia amid tightened security

The annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage started on Saturday in Saudi Arabia amid increased security measures

Cardinal Bozanic extends best wishes for Kurban Bairam

The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanic, on Saturday extended his best wishes for the Muslim holiday of Kurban Bairam to the head of the Islamic community, Mufti Aziz Hasanovic and the Islamic faithful in Croatia.

Over 1.3 million Muslims arrive in Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage

Around 1.32 million Muslims have arrived in Saudi Arabia from around the globe for the annual Hajj pilgrimage that starts on Saturday, a Saudi official said.

Saudi minister slams Iran in escalating spat over Hajj

Iran does not want the Hajj to pass safely for the millions who take part, a Saudi minister said, in an escalating spat between the two regional rivals over the annual Muslim pilgrimage.

France's Hollande rejects nationwide burkini ban

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday rejected the idea of a new law to ban the burkini, the full-body bathing suit designed for conservative Muslim women.

Italy expels Muslim cleric who refused to accept gender parity

A Moroccan man who served as a "stand-in imam" in a mosque in northern Italy was forcibly repatriated home because he refused to accept Italian constitutional rights such as gender parity, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Thursday.

Two presidents attend opening of renovated Calvinist school in NE Croatia

Croatian and Hungarian Presidents Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Janos Ader on Wednesday evening visited the village of Karanac, northeast Croatia, to attend the opening of the renovated school of the Protestant Reformed Christian Church.

Men attack pregnant Muslim woman wearing full-face veil in Barcelona

Two suspected right-wing extremists attacked a heavily pregnant Muslim woman wearing a full-face veil in Barcelona, Spanish news agency Efe reported on Wednesday citing police sources.