The global growth of Islam, and in particular the rise of Islamic extremism, have forced recent popes to set out, with increasing urgency, a strategy for engaging the religion.
Within 20 years, the number of Muslim babies being born is expected to surpass Christian births — though there will still be more Christians in the world. Muslims currently account for about 24 percent of the world population, compared to 31 percent for Christians, according to the Pew Research Center.
Germany has no plans to introduce an "Islam law'"codifying the rights and obligations of Muslims, a government spokesman said on April 3, dismissing an idea floated by allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of federal elections in September.
Merkel, who will seek a fourth term in what is expected to be a close-fought ballot, has come under fire for opening Germany's doors to refugees, more than one million of whom — mostly Muslims — have entered the country over the past two years.
“There is simply no justification in our day for failures to enact concrete safeguarding standards for our children, young men and women, and vulnerable adults,” O’Malley said.
“We are called to reform and renew all the institutions of our church. … And we certainly must address the evil of sexual abuse by priests.”
As Pope Francis marks the fourth anniversary of his revolutionary papacy, the pontiff apparently finds himself besieged on all sides by crises of his own making: an open “civil war” in the Catholic Church and fears of schism, mounting opposition from the faithful, and a Roman Curia so furious with his reforms that some cardinals are plotting a coup to topple him.
In a major setback for the pope, Collins on Mar. 1 announced that she had resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, established by the pontiff in 2013 to counter abuse in the church.
She said the pope’s decision to create the commission was a “sincere move,” but there had been “constant setbacks” from officials within the Vatican.
“There are people in the Vatican who do not want to change, or understand the need to change,” Collins said in a telephone interview from Dublin.
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.
In one weekend, the swastika appeared in public places in three U.S. cities — Houston, Chicago, and New York. The sight was so offensive, average New Yorkers pulled out hand sanitizer and tissues to wipe the graffiti from the walls of the subway where it had been scrawled.
“Within about two minutes, all the Nazi symbolism was gone,” one subway rider who was there said. He added, “Everyone kind of just did their jobs of being decent human beings.”
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.”
Berlin police urged people to be especially alert Wednesday and warned that the person or persons responsible were likely armed and dangerous. As of Tuesday night, police had received more than 500 tips about the attack. Security has been tightened in Berlin and across other European capital cities.
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.
On Dec. 6 German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for face-covering veils to be banned in Germany, reports the Washington Post.
“The full veil is not appropriate here, it should be forbidden wherever that is legally possible,” said Merkel, speaking to attendees of the Christian Democratic Union's conference.
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.
In late 1945, after the end of World War II, Kurt Neumann began digging in his garden.
During the previous eight years, under the brown soil, a bunch of documents and photos had lain in repose. He scrubbed off the dirt and unspooled the documents from the oil paper preserving wrapped to protect them. He had survived the war and so had the founding papers of the city’s anti-religion, secularist movement.
A 94-year-old former SS guard at Auschwitz was convicted in a German court of complicity in the murder of 170,000 people at the Nazi death camp and sentenced to five years in jail, according to media reports.
The verdict in the case against Reinhold Hanning was announced June 17 by the judge presiding over what is likely Germany’s last Holocaust trials, Reuters reported. Hanning, who could have faced a 15-year sentence, will remain free pending any appeals.
While many countries in Europe have sealed their borders to refugees, Germany has done the opposite. Last year, the country registered over 1 million asylum seekers, including 425,000 from ravaged Syria.
No other country in the European Union has accepted as many. For Syrians and others who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in rubber dinghies, Germany has become a beacon of hope.
A German Catholic leader’s defense of religious freedom has triggered a backlash following anti-Muslim statements by far-right politicians in the country.
Editor-in-Chief Ingo Brueggenjuergen of the Catholic broadcaster Dom Radio, which ran the interview with Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne earlier this week, said in a commentary April 27 that some critics are claiming the cardinal is out to destroy the Catholic Church.
A Catholic priest has resigned from his parish in Germany after racist threats and abuse by local politicians. The Rev. Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende told parishioners during his March 6 sermon that he would be leaving his post in Zorneding, close to Munich, after Easter. The Congolese-German priest received race-related death threats five times in the past few months and has also been stalked, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.
Catholics and Lutherans have made another step toward joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 by issuing common liturgical guidelines for ecumenical services to mark the occasion. The guidelines, in a booklet called “Common Prayer,” provide a template for an ecumenical service, complete with suggested prayers, appropriate hymns, and themes for sermons.
Time magazine’s 2015 “Person of the Year” is a self-identified conservative Christian, but not one of the many running for president of the United States. While the dynamics of faith and politics are different in Europe, German leader Angela Merkel is an example of a conservative Christian living out her faith in the public square quite differently than we see in the U.S.
Time, which calls her “Chancellor of the Free World,” characterizes her strong leadership of economic and political crises in Europe as “no flair, no flourishes, no charisma, just a survivor’s sharp sense of power and a scientist’s devotion to data.” She may be a quantum chemist, but she’s also an Evangelical Lutheran preacher’s kid with an unwavering faith.