Thursday’s roundup

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom named 13 countries – including Saudi Arabia and China – as serious violators of religious freedom. The congressionally mandated panel also included as “countries of particular concern”: Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. President Obama is among the hundreds of mourners […]

Why does Tariq Ramadan cause such a stir?

Eleanor Goldberg |

WASHINGTON (RNS) With an open collared baby blue shirt and Dolce & Gabbana jacket hugging his slim frame, Tariq Ramadan appears the epitome of Western sophistication. But from 2004 until just a few months ago, the Department of Homeland Security viewed him with suspicion. Ramadan, a 46-year-old Oxford University professor and a golden child of […]

COMMENTARY: Inflamed passions over Oberammergau

A. James Rudin |

(RNS) Since 1634, the Bavarian village of Oberammergau has staged an elaborate Passion play that has become of the largest and longest-running stage depictions of the last week of Jesus’ life. The show now runs once every 10 years. During this year’s run of 102 performances between May 15 and Oct. 3, an estimated half-million […]

Pope urges `sensitivity’ as Mass changes are introduced

Francis X. Rocca |

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI warned that a forthcoming new English translation of the Catholic Mass could provoke “confusion or bewilderment” among worshipers if not “introduced with due sensitivity.” Benedict made his remarks on Wednesday (April 28), during lunch with a committee of English-speaking bishops from five continents, who have worked for nearly a […]

Catholic bishops slam `draconian’ Arizona law

Daniel Burke |

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Catholic bishops slammed a new Arizona immigration law as “draconian” and called on Congress to stop political “gamesmanship” and pass immigration reform. Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee, said Tuesday (April 27) the Arizona law could lead to ethnic profiling […]

Polish Lutherans mourn second slain bishop

GENEVA (RNS/ENI) Lutherans in Poland lost a second bishop to tragedy when Bishop Mieczyslaw Cieslar died in a car accident as he returned from the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash that also claimed the life of Bishop Adam Pilch. Cieslar, of the Warsaw diocese of the Evangelical Church […]

Supreme Court says war memorial cross can stay

Adelle M. Banks |

WASHINGTON (RNS) A divided Supreme Court on Wednesday (April 28) overruled a lower court that had said Congress erred when it transferred a war memorial cross in the Mojave National Preserve into private hands. The 5-4 ruling means the five-foot-cross, currently encased in plywood as the case made its way through the legal system, can […]

10 minutes with … Rose Mary Sanchez-Guzman

G. Jeffrey MacDonald |

(RNS) A rash of drug-related violence in Juarez, Mexico, has prompted some Christian organizations to halt educational tours that took Americans across the border from El Paso, Texas, to tour poor Juarez neighborhoods. But it hasn’t stopped Border Immersion Experience, a program of Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey (Christ the King Lutheran Church) in El Paso […]

Tea Party insurgence ripples through Missouri Synod election

Tim Townsend |

ST. LOUIS (RNS) When the nominations for president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod were tallied and released earlier this month, a collective gasp went up from Lutherans who pay attention to things like presidential nominations. It wasn’t just that nine-year incumbent Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, 67, received 755 nominations, but that the Rev. Matthew Harrison, 48, […]

COMMENTARY: Happy Mothers Day

Phyllis Zagano |

(RNS) Just when you think you’ve heard it all, another weird notion comes down the pike. Now scientists at England’s Newcastle University say they have grown human embryos from three parents. It’s called “Pronuclear transfer in human embryos to prevent transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease” — at least that’s the title of the 12-author paper […]