Tom Heneghan is a Paris-based correspondent for Religion News Service.
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Europe: Not as Secular as You Think
Despite the region’s widespread secularization, 71 percent of the 24,599 adults Pew surveyed in 15 countries still identify as Christians, even if only 22 percent say they attend church at least once a month.
Jews and Muslims Invited to Celebrate Carnival in Germany
“They’re amazed how little these people realize that satire can be a form of violence that hurts them, their spirituality, their view of God and the way they pray,” he said.
Top German Cardinal Signals Cautious Support for Blessing Same-Sex Couples
The ambiguity of Marx’s answers echoed the style of Pope Francis, who has signaled support for proposed reforms — such as giving Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics in individual cases — while not expressly endorsing them.
In Germany, Catholic Church Grapples with Blessings for Gay Marriage
“Dog, cats, and motorcycles get blessings, but we’re not worth one?” Mayor Peter Hinze complained. “It can hardly be made clearer that we’re second-class people.”
Germans Debate How to Combat ‘Imported Anti-Semitism’
But with Holocaust Memorial Day coming up on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz, her Christian Democrats have decided to wait no longer. They want the Bundestag, the German parliament, to pass a resolution calling for migrants who promote hatred of Jews to be expelled.
The Nazis Exploited Martin Luther’s Legacy. This Berlin Exhibit Highlights How.
Most visitors to events in Germany marking this year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation, however, probably didn’t expect to find an exhibition setting out just how extensively the Nazis used Luther to justify their anti-Semitism and nationalism.
In France, a Religious Minority Is Increasingly Influencing Secular Politics
In France’s highly secularized society, anyone who talks about religion and politics risks being written off as a closet demagogue, a Catholic traditionalist, or a potential radical Islamist. Officially, the twain should never meet.
Scientists, Theologians Ponder If Latest Biological Findings Are More Compatible With Religion
“We’ve added definition to the picture of evolution that has deepened and enriched our understanding of biological processes,” Donovan Schaefer, an Oxford lecturer in science and religion who co-organized the conference, told the opening session of the July 19-22 meeting.
But he added: “It would be naive to imagine that the grander questions about biology, religion, the humanities, and evolutionary theory generally have been put to death.”
Reformed Churches Endorse Catholic-Lutheran Accord on Key Reformation Dispute
Amid ceremonies this year marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, one of Protestantism’s leading branches has officially said it now agrees with the Vatican on the main issue at the root of its split from the Roman Catholic Church half a millennium ago.
ISIS’ Intriguing Silence About Donald Trump’s Approach to Muslims
With his anti-Muslim rhetoric and planned travel bans, you’d think President Trump would be a favorite target for Islamic State’s propaganda. The jihadist caliphate in Syria and Iraq must be pulling out all the stops to slam him as the epitome of Islamophobia.
Well, think again. The extremist group that Trump vows to “totally obliterate” has hardly printed or broadcast a word about him since before the November election. The caliphate’s Ministry of Media acts almost as if he didn’t exist.
Trump’s Wish to Ban Muslim Immigration Is Widely Shared in Europe
According to two extensive recent opinion polls, majorities across Europe are deeply concerned about Muslim immigration and support an immediate end to it, even as Europeans vastly overestimate the actual Muslim populations of their countries.
Voters in several countries back a complete immigration ban at levels notably higher than those in the United States. Anti-immigration politicians in Poland, Hungary, and elsewhere are gaining ground in Western Europe.
Toy Figure of Martin Luther Sparks Accusations of Anti-Semitism
All was apparently going fine until Micha Brumlik, a retired Frankfurt University education professor and respected Jewish commentator, wrote last June that the popular toy was “anti-Jewish, if not even anti-Semitic.”
The problem, he said, was the inscription on the open pages of the Bible that the Playmobil Luther holds. On the left is written in German: “Books of the Old Testament. END,” while the right page says “The New Testament, translated by Doctor Martin Luther.”
France: Anti-Abortion Websites Could Be a Crime
Since coming to power in 2012, the government has made abortion completely free as part of the National Health Service, scrapped a requirement that a woman must be “in distress” to obtain permission to abort, and dropped a weeklong “reflection period” between applying for and carrying out an abortion. It decided to act again in part because several anti-abortion sites were found to be ranked higher on search engines than the government’s own abortion information site. Although their home pages appear to be neutral, the sites and their advice hotlines — run mostly by Catholic anti-abortion activists — are on closer inspection clearly against abortion and stress the physical and psychological damage they say the procedure can cause.
German Protestants Officially Renounce Converting Jews to Christianity
Tackling a delicate issue, as it begins its yearlong celebration of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Germany’s main Protestant church has officially renounced its mission to convert Jews to Christianity.
In practice, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), made up of 20 regional Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches, mostly gave up efforts to convert Jews in the decades after the Holocaust, and closing that chapter should have been a formality.
Germans Consider a Muslim Writer for Their Next President
While Americans watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fighting to the finish, in a noisy and polarized campaign, Germans are quietly debating their own presidential election in far different terms.
Among the names put forward as candidates are two leading Protestant bishops — one of them a woman — and even a respected Muslim writer.
Russian Orthodox Church Calls Boycotted Crete Council 'An Important Event'
The Russian Orthodox Church, whose boycott of a major summit of Orthodox Christian leaders in Crete last month threatened to slow down efforts to promote greater unity, has declared the meeting “an important event in the history of the conciliar process.”
The church’s synod, in its official reaction to the June 20-26 Holy and Great Council, also said the meeting could not be called “pan-Orthodox” because four of the 14 independent Orthodox member churches did not attend.
Pan-Orthodox Council Turns Into Cliffhanger Over Boycott Threats
After a gap of over 1,200 years, including 55 years of preparation, the planned Holy and Great Council of the Eastern Orthodox churches has turned into a cliffhanger only days before it is set to open.
The historic summit of the 14 Orthodox member churches was called by their spiritual head, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, to promote unity among the faithful who had grown apart by geography, language, and customs.
Tunisia's Ennahda Movement Renounces Political Islam
Tunisia’s Ennahda movement, the most successful Islamist party to emerge from the Arab Spring revolts early in this decade, has renounced political Islam and declared it will operate in the country’s politics as “Muslim democrats.”
A party congress over the weekend in the beach resort of Hammamet voted almost unanimously to drop Ennahda’s traditional religious work and participate in Tunisian politics as a regular political party.
Prominent French Priest and Vatican Adviser Accused in Sex Scandal
For years, seminaries and monasteries around France sent students and novices to Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a prominent French priest and therapist who has written disparagingly of gays, if their superiors decided the young men were struggling with homosexuality.
German Protestants Agree to Help Rebuild Notorious Potsdam Church
Built in 1735, the Garrison Church was where pre-war Germany’s Protestant kaisers, kings, and generals went to pray for victory, entering amid military ornamentation and sitting among the captured flags of defeated armies. Prussia’s legendary King Fredrick the Great was buried there.