France

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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.

Image via Reuters/Max Rossi

Pope Francis urged the United Nations on March 28 to seek the "total elimination" of nuclear weapons, speaking as the United States and some other major powers boycotted a conference considering a global ban.

In a message to the conference that started in New York on March 27, Francis called on nations to "go beyond nuclear deterrence" and have the courage to overcome the "fear and isolationism" he said was prevalent in many countries today.

Z. Fareen Parvez 3-20-2017

Image via RNS/Pascal Rossignol

Every year, there are several hundred hate crimes committed against French Muslims. Of these, the majority of victims who have been physically assaulted are women in headscarves.

So what will be the impact of the Court of Justice’s ruling on an already beleaguered minority of headscarf-wearing Muslim women?

Image via RNS/Reuters/Marko Djurica

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.

Image via RNS/ Elizabeth Bryant 

Across Europe, governments and local communities are searching for ways to counter extremism after a wave of largely homegrown terrorist attacks.The question is all the more important for France, the target of three terror strikes in two years, and Western Europe’s biggest exporter of extremist fighters.Yet while countries such as Britain, Denmark and Germany have long been involved in deradicalization efforts, France is a relative newcomer to such programs. Some believe the country’s fiercely secular mindset and conflicted relationship with Islam pose additional obstacles.

Image via Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

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. 

the Web Editors 12-19-2016

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On Dec. 19 a truck drove into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, killing at least nine people and injuring more, in what law enforcement officials suspect is a terrorist attack, reports the Guardian. The Christmas market was set up in Breitscheidplatz, one of Berlin’s most-frequented shopping areas.

A police spokesperson announced that the incident may have caused a gas leak. The Christmas market has been evacuated and an information point has been established for people in search of missing loved ones.

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Now, Donoghue, 47, has written The Wonder, a story based on “fasting girls” — a crop of pre-adolescent Victorians, some of them religiously motivated, who seemed to survive for months or years on no food and little water. Some were revealed as frauds, some gave up their fast, while others wasted away while family, friends, doctors, and clergy watched.

the Web Editors 10-25-2016

Image via Sean Hawkey/World Council of Churches.

As of Oct. 25, French authorities have begun demolishing the migrant camp known as “the Jungle” in the city of Calais, reports CNN. The camp — stretching nearly 4 square kilometers — was home to more than 3,100 migrants. Many of these migrants have been bussed from the camp to other regions in France.

the Web Editors 9-01-2016

image via tumblr / MAERIL

A young artist by the name of Maeril created a fantastic comic for anyone witnessing islamophobic harassment in public. It was published on her Tumblr and later on Facebook through her work with The Middle Eastern Feminist. 

Image via RNS/Reuters/Tim Wimborne

The United Nations human rights office has called on French beach resorts to lift their bans on the burkini, calling them a “stupid reaction” that did not improve security but fueled religious intolerance.

France’s highest administrative court last Friday suspended one seaside town’s ban on the full-body swimsuit sometimes worn by Muslim women, on the grounds it violated fundamental liberties.

French President Francçois Hollande leaves the Church of St. Louis of the French in Rome on Aug. 17. REUTERS/Remo Casilli 

Pope Francis met with French President Francois Hollande at the Vatican just three weeks after an elderly priest was brutally murdered by Islamist militants in northern France.

The Vatican said the meeting on Wednesday was private and released no further details of what was discussed.

RNS Staff 7-26-2016

Image via REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/RNS

France was convulsed by another horrific attack on July 26 as armed men burst into a Catholic Church near Rouen and slit the throat of a priest who was saying Mass.

The slain priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 84, was one of four people taken hostage by the attackers, who authorities said had claimed to be from Daesh, the Arabic term for the Islamic State group.

Image via Stefano Rellandini/REUTERS/RNS

Pope Francis has telephoned leaders of the terror-stricken French city of Nice, asking them what he could do to help in the wake of last week’s gruesome truck attack and promising to meet with the families of the victims as soon as possible.

The pontiff made his call out of the blue on July 17, reaching the former mayor of Nice and leader of the region, Christian Estrosi, through the head of a national association of Italians who live in France.

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A French court has found two former Rwandan politicians guilty of crimes against humanity for masterminding the slaughter of 2,000 people taking refuge in a Catholic church during the country’s genocide.

Octavien Ngenzi and Tito Barahira, both former mayors of Kabarondo village, were sentenced to life in jail on July 6.

Monsignor Tony Anatrella. Image via Peter Potrowl / Wikimedia Commons / RNS

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.

Image via REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/RNS

Burkinis aren’t showing up at the beaches on either side of the English Channel yet, but the thought that the full head-to-ankle swimsuit might catch on among Muslim women in Europe has already sparked lively debates in Britain and France.

Maya Evans 3-30-2016

A small shop in the Jungle. Image via Sean Hawkey / World Council of Church / Sojourners

This month, French authorities have been demolishing the 'Jungle,' a toxic wasteland on the edge of Calais. Formerly a landfill site four kilometers square, it is now populated by approximately 5,000 refugees pushed there over the last year. A remarkable community of 15 nationalities adhering to various faiths comprises the Jungle. Residents have formed a network of shops and restaurants which, along with hamams and barber shops, contribute to a micro-economy within the encampment. Community infrastructure now includes schools, mosques, churches, and clinics.

Sophie Kasiki holds her book. Image via Tom Heneghan / RNS

Sophie Kasiki, one of the few Western women to have seen the Islamic State group’s harsh “caliphate” in Syria and escaped, recounts her life in the jihadists’ stronghold Raqqa with detached calm and inner rage. Born to a Catholic family in Cameroon and living in Paris since the age of 9, she converted to Islam as an adult. She traveled with her 4-year-old son to Syria in February 2015, to join three friends who had left for jihad a few months before.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. Image via Reuters/Charles Platiau/RNS

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on a prominent cardinal to “assume his responsibilities” amid widening allegations of a pedophilia cover-up targeting Lyon’s Roman Catholic diocese. In an interview with BFM TV on March 15, Valls refused to comment on whether Cardinal Philippe Barbarin should step down. The archbishop of Lyon, Barbarin has been accused of covering up alleged sexual abuse of young boy scouts by Lyon priest Bernard Preynat between 1986 and 1991 — before Barbarin was named cardinal.

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