The Changing Faiths of the Persian Gulf

Monday, June 21, 2010 7:54 PM Comments (3)

Pope Benedict XVI accepts the credentials of Hissa Abdulla Ahmed al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates' first ambassador to the Vatican, May 20 at the Vatican. The Vatican and the United Arab Emirates, a federal union made up of seven states, established full diplomatic relations in 2007. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo)

Although Christian emigration from the Holy Land continues to be a serious concern, it’s perhaps less well known that other parts of the Middle East - namely the Arabian peninsular - have seen a phenomenal rate of Christian immigration, mostly from the Asian sub-continent.

It’s the subject of an interesting essay by my colleague Giuseppe Caffulli, the editor-in-chief of, and highlighted today by the veteran Vaticanista Sandro Magister.

Caffulli writes: “The land which gave birth to Islam and the Prophet is top on the chart of areas in the world where Christianity is increasing the most” and he goes on to list some remarkable population statistics:

• The United Arab...READ MORE

Filed under arabian peninsula, emigration, holy land, holy see, middle east, persian gulf, religious freedom

L'Osservatore Discusses…The Blues Brothers

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 3:38 PM Comments (27)

Professor Gian Maria Vian, editor of L'Osservatore Romano, and The Blues Brothers

Is The Blues Brothers, which turns 30 tomorrow, a Catholic movie?

L’Osservatore Romano thinks so – and has devoted a whole page in tomorrow’s edition, plus an editorial from its editor, Professor Gian Maria Vian, to explain why.

It’s the newspaper’s latest foray into pop culture which, like its articles on the Beatles, Michael Jackson and others, will be welcomed by some as a refreshing innovation but leave others bemused and not a little irritated. “Vatican Gives Thumbs Up to The Blues Brothers” is the likely headline if some secular papers choose to run the story tomorrow.

So what does Vian say? He does actually seem to make some valid points, though I don’t know the film well so...READ MORE

Filed under gian maria vian, l'osservatore romano, media, movies, pop culture, vatican

Benedict XVI's Q&A with Priests

Monday, June 14, 2010 10:50 AM Comments (2)

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for a prayer vigil with some 10,000 priests as part of the closing of the Year for Priests in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

As well has the Holy Father’s much lauded homily which closed the Year for Priests, another highlight of the events of last week was Benedict XVI’s question and answer session with priests at a prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday. Hardly reported was how moved the Pope was: after greeting the 10,000 clergy present in the popemobile, tears of joy could be seen rolling down his cheeks according to some observers.

The Vatican Information Service has today provided this helpful summary of the Pope’s responses, given to five priests, one from each of the five continents:

“Asked by a Brazilian priest how pastors must face the difficulties they encounter in their ministry, the Pope...READ MORE

Filed under pope benedict xvi, prayer vigil, q&a, year for priests

"Priests Should be Wellsprings of Life"

Holy Father Concludes Year for Priests

Friday, June 11, 2010 9:05 AM Comments (2)

Priests pray during Mass celebrated by top Vatican officials at the Legionaries of Christ's Center for Higher Studies in Rome June 8. The Mass, concelebrated by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, and Cardinal Antonio Canizar es Llovera, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, was one of several events for priests gathered in Rome to conclude the Year for Priests. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

To conclude the Year for Priests, at 10am this morning on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

Here is the full text of the Holy Father’s homily.

Dear Brothers in the Priestly Ministry,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Year for Priests which we have celebrated on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of the holy Curè of Ars, the model of priestly ministry in our world, is now coming to an end. We have let the Curé of Ars guide us to a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry. The priest is not a mere office-holder, like those which every society needs in order to carry out...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, priests, vocations, year for priests

Monopoly of Darwinism Must End

Thursday, June 10, 2010 3:19 PM Comments (9)

Pope Benedict XVI exchanges greetings with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk prior to a concert at the Vatican May 20. The concert was a gift from Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (May 21, 2010)

A leading Russian Orthodox prelate has called for an end to a “monopoly of Darwinism” in schools and the idea “that science generally contradicts religion.”

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the Russian Orthodox Church’s ‘foreign minister’, said in a lecture to foreign office officials Wednesday that “the time has come to end the monopoly of Darwinism and the deceptive idea that science in general contradicts religion. These ideas should be left in the past.”

In his comments, reported by Reuters and carried in tomorrow’s L’Osservatore Romano, Hilarion stressed that religious teaching on creation should be taught alongside theories on the evolution of species.

“Darwin’s...READ MORE

Filed under darwinism, education, evolution, metropolitan hilarion, russian orthodox church

Italian Governor Paying to Save Babies

Thursday, June 03, 2010 9:16 PM Comments (3)

Roberto Formigoni, governor of Italy's Lombardy region.

“No woman in Lombardy will have to have an abortion because of economic difficulties.”

The pledge of Roberto Formigoni, the centre-Right governor of the Lombardy region in northern Italy, who is to offer women considering an abortion €4,500 ($5,500) to keep their baby.

Pregnant women in the region who can prove they are in economic difficulty will be given €250 ($300) a month for 18 months. Formigoni promised to introduce the incentive when he ran for office in regional elections in March.

The program will cost the local authority €5 million ($6.1 million) which will be placed in a special fund. It’s estimated that it will help more than a thousand mothers not to give up their child....READ MORE

Filed under abortion, italy, roberto formigoni

Cypriot Orthodox Rattled by Pope's Unity Push

Tuesday, June 01, 2010 4:43 PM Comments (4)

A woman touches a crucifix at a church in Nicosia, Cyprus, May 9. Ecumenism and the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East will be the main focuses of Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Cyprus June 4-6. (CNS photo/Andreas Manolis, Reuters)

It seems sadly to be the fashionable thing to try to victimize the Holy Father and call for his arrest.

The latest to do so — and risk making a foolish spectacle of themselves — are two Orthodox groups in Cyprus.

Opposed to the Pope’s visit later this week to the country because they are against ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church, the two groups have called on the attorney general to arrest the Holy Father as soon as he sets foot in the country.

Like the ‘new atheists’ who are vowing to do the same when he visits Britain in September, they believe he should be arrested for covering up pedophile crime by priests, even though no evidence has come to light to indict the Pope of...READ MORE

Filed under benedict xvi, cyprus, orthodox

Novak on Arkes's Conversion

Monday, May 31, 2010 7:21 AM Comments (0)

Professor Hadley Arkes and the Catholic philosopher, writer and diplomat, Michael Novak.

Hadley Arkes’s reception into the Catholic Church at the end of April was a “joyous and thrilling” occasion, according to Michael Novak who was his sponsor.

Speaking to the Register in Rome last week, Novak said it was a day of “great love, esteem and happiness.”

Arkes, a professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, and one of the country’s foremost pro-life legal scholars, was received into the Church at the chapel of the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. on April 24.

Born and raised a Jew, he said in a recent interview with The Anchor, the Catholic newspaper of Fall River Diocese, that he realized more than a decade ago that there was...READ MORE

Filed under conversion, hadley arkes, judaism, michael novak

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About Edward Pentin

Edward Pentin
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Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Follow on Twitter @edwardpentin