2009 a year of unintended consequences

Kevin Eckstrom |

(RNS) When Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa last March, he made countless pleas on behalf of the poor and the war-weary. Yet the words that got the most attention were spoken on the papal plane when he said condoms are part of the problem, not the solution, to Africa’s HIV/AIDS pandemic. And so it was […]

Economic squeeze produces a new kind of seminarian

G. Jeffrey MacDonald |

NEWTON, Mass. (RNS) When Newton, Mass. artist Paula Rendino needed fresh inspiration last year (2008), she sought her muse in an unlikely place: seminary. Art school would have been “too boring,” Rendino explained. She yearned to bring fresh depth to her work by pondering spiritual themes. Now she does exactly that alongside dozens of ministers-in-training […]

Thank you for calling Religion News Service …

I swear, we’ve all been really nice, not naughty, this year so Santa’s giving us a year-end present and RNS will be going dark until Jan. 4. But don’t worry — we’ll be back up live in the event of breaking news. From all of us at RNS, happy holidays and best wishes for a […]

Court rules against 9/11 families’ burial claims

Adelle M. Banks |

(RNS) A federal appeals court has rejected the claims of families who wanted the unidentified remains of relatives killed in the 9/11 attacks to be given a proper burial according to their religious beliefs. A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday (Dec. 23) against a group called World Trade […]

Poker-playing priest wins $100,000 for church

Daniel Burke |

(RNS) A poker-playing Catholic priest folded his cards without winning the $1 million prize, but left the table with $100,000 for his South Carolina parish in a tournament to be broadcast nationwide this Sunday (Dec. 27). The Rev. Andrew Trapp said he will donate all of his winnings from the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge to […]

Second Irish bishop resigns in wake of abuse report

Francis X. Rocca |

VATICAN CITY (RNS) An Irish Catholic bishop implicated in a recent report on clerical sex abuse resigned on Wednesday (Dec. 23), making his the second such resignation in less than a week. In a statement announcing the move, Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin apologized to “all the survivors and their families,” and expressed […]

COMMENTARY:  Seeing the world through Christmas-colored glasses

Dick Staub |

(RNS) James Cameron’s new film, “Avatar,” opened in theaters across America as the most expensive movie ever made — it’s the first film ever made in true 3-D. Once you put on the special 3-D glasses, what you see changes everything. Here as we are knee-deep in the middle of Christmas, I wondered what would […]

This holiday season, 15 titles to nourish your soul

Ann Byle |

(RNS) The holiday season and the New Year — often full of stress, drama and emotional baggage — is a fine time to consider spiritual issues. The 15 titles listed here touch on topics ranging from church architecture to the church fathers, from a Catholic priest’s insights to Taoist sacred texts. Doubters, atheists, Bible study […]

Red Cross links survivors with family lost in Holocaust

Katy Muldoon |

PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Alexa Dezsofi’s eyes raced across the documents and landed on a stunning fact: A man who shares her last name, in all likelihood a distant cousin and the sort of family she’d searched for, had actually survived one of history’s most notorious concentration camps, Dachau. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh […]

Thursday’s roundup

Kevin Eckstrom |

It’s Christmas Eve and there’s all sorts of gift-giving going on. Senate Democrats (finally!) placed a giant health care bill under President Obama’s tree, voting 60-39 in favor. There’s still a lot of negotiating to do with the House version, and abortion remains an obstacle, but as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put it: […]