Researchers have turned embryonic stem cells in mice into sperm, making it conceivable that by implanting the sperm into eggs the resulting embryo could develop from the cells of people of the same sex, according to the Telegraph in the UK.

"What we would really like to know is, will these cells … that we formed in the dish, actually sustain the development of an embryo," Dr George Daley, a stem cell biologist, told Reuters.

If the process is normal, "then it opens up possibilities for novel forms of reproductive biology," said Daley who co-authored the study done by the Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Daley is now trying to determine if the procedure would work with human cells.

Though researchers have developed female eggs from stem cells, according to another press release, they have not been capable of being fertilized.

In a statement, Daley said their work may shed light on birth defects. "Germ cells are given the responsibility for perpetuating the species, and understanding how germ-cell formation goes awry may teach us about early developmental defects, as well as some forms of male infertility," he says. "Our research is aimed at understanding normal and pathologic tissue formation, and not so much at futuristic means of assisted reproduction."

Not in Italy

If researchers try to pull that off in Italy, they'd better turn to a married couple. According to a Reuters story in today's Chicago Tribune and elsewhere, "Italy's Senate approved a law on reproductive rights Thursday that bans the use of donor sperm, eggs or surrogate mothers and restricts assisted fertilization to 'stable' heterosexual couples."

The story notes Italy's heavy Roman Catholic influence in the law's broad support. According to the bill only infertile couples who are married or can prove they have a stable relationship are allowed to seek reproduction assistance. Additionally, they cannot use the sperm or eggs of donors or use surrogate mothers.

In addition, embryos resulting from artificial insemination may not be frozen (possibly to prevent a similar situation to the U.S. where 400,000 embryos are on ice) or used in research. It also limits the amount of embryos implanted in the mother's womb.

"This law says 'Enough!' to the abuses and recognizes that an embryo is a person and as such must be protected from the point of conception," said Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, a senator from [Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi's Forza Italia party. Those opposed to the law complained that it paved the way for an attack on abortion.

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If Italian gay couples want to settle down and raise their own family but feel persecuted in their own country, Australia is offering them refugee status.

More articles

Life ethics:

  • Effort to ban human cloning will resume | Bush administration, allies will pursue U.N. vote despite diplomatic setback (The Washington Post)

  • Poll: Many oppose Fla. tube-feeding law | Nearly two-thirds of Florida voters oppose the hastily passed state law that required that a brain-damaged woman's feeding tube be reinserted over the objections of her husband, according to a new poll released Sunday (Associated Press)

  • Baby's tragic death 'god's will' | The parents of a Northland baby who died from a kidney infection believe their eighth child died as the result of "God's will". (, New Zealand)

  • Cheating death | Kari Christianson came within a minute of death Monday, says her father, Ritchie. "She had stopped breathing and had no pulse. There was no time for an ambulance." (Burnett County Sentinel, Wisconsin)

  • Humanity? Maybe it's in the wiring | Neuroscientists have given up looking for the seat of the soul, but they are still seeking what may be special about human brains, what it is that provides the basis for a level of self-awareness and complex emotions unlike those of other animals. Most recently they have been investigating circuitry rather than specific locations, looking at pathways and connections that are central in creating social emotions, a moral sense, even the feeling of free will. (The New York Times)

  • Artificial sperm offers hope on infertility treatment | Recent experiments on mice have suggested that it will one day be possible to make synthetic eggs and sperm, a feat that could also open the way for homosexual couples to have children that are genetically their own. (The Telegraph)

  • Global therapeutic cloning ban averted | A global ban on all medical applications of human cloning was averted by an eleventh-hour deal at the United Nations on Tuesday. Last-minute haggling in the aisles of the UN General Assembly in New York sealed a compromise which postpones debate on a cloning treaty until October 2004. (New Scientist)

  • Health Min. bill will allow cloning for stem cell research | The Health Ministry presented the members of the Knesset's science committee this week with a proposal for a bill that would outlaw cloning experimentation for the purpose of reproduction, but would allow the cloning of embryonic stem cells for medical purposes. (Ha'aretz)

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Religion and politics:

  • White House aide angers pagans | Towey Suggests Groups Lack Concern for the Poor (Washington Post)

  • 'Gettable' Episcopalians | While many Episcopalians are no doubt "gettable" for Democratic candidates, they don't number in the millions (Diane Knippers, The Washington Post)

  • Firebrand now in a position to shake up Ulster politics | Ian Paisley has effectively become the new Protestant leader of Northern Ireland (The New York Times)

  • Blending politics and religion | How much faith should we have in our political leaders? For once, that is not a question about spin, but about religion. If those in power claim to feel the hand of God on their shoulders, should we feel comforted, inspired or just afraid? (Roger Childs, BBC)

  • Bush likely to press Wen on religious freedom | President George W. Bush is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom with the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, in the White House on Tuesday, following a decision by a US commission to call off a visit to China after it had been ordered not to speak to anyone in Hong Kong (Financial Times)

  • Democrats try to regain ground on moral issues | The Democratic presidential candidates who are talking about values are looking to broaden their appeal to the swath of churchgoing voters who may be up for grabs in the Midwestern and Southern primaries (The New York Times)

  • Chirac denounces Muslim head scarves on schoolgirls | Momentum building in France to bar all religious symbols from public schools (Reuters)

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  • Cardinal calls for 'support' for refugees | Scotland's new Cardinal today became the latest high profile figure to take a stand for refugees and asylum seekers (PA, U.K.)

  • President says faith gives him 'great comfort' | President Bush says his religious faith is helping him deal with the challenges of the presidency, and he credits the Bible with inspiring him to push for federal funding to fight AIDS. (USA Today)

  • Growing social divide between U.S., Canada, pollster says | Americans from the Northern states often have more values in common with their Canadian neighbours than they do with their cousins from Southern states, according to a leading U.S. pollster. (The Globe and Mail)

  • Blending politics and religion | How much faith should we have in our political leaders? For once, that is not a question about spin, but about religion. If those in power claim to feel the hand of God on their shoulders, should we feel comforted, inspired or just afraid? (BBC)

  • A moral drive for the presidency | With lurid details about President Clinton's dalliances with White House intern Monica Lewinsky dominating the news in Washington, a prominent conservative confronted the one man he thought could bring an end to the national embarrassment: Joseph I. Lieberman. (The Boston Globe)

  • Religious belief becomes biggest predictor of vote | Want to know how Americans will vote next Election Day? Watch what they do the weekend before. (Houston Chronicle)

  • The Boykin affair still simmers | The administration will remove the general only if they feel they have no choice and they can do so without paying a steep political price. Otherwise, they will seek to wait out the storm and hope that it passes (James J. Zogby, Jordan Times)

  • With God, Bush is on the right side | The president was correct in saying Muslims and Christians worship the same deity (Jack Miles, Los Angles Times)

Gay marriage:

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  • Social conservatives are here, and not going away | Vilification is over the top. If gay-marriage opponents are the fringe, then the fringe is mighty wide (Charles W. Moore, Montreal Gazette)

  • The case against same sex 'marriage' | How much difference can one person pressing an argument make? In the case of Andrew Sullivan and marriage rights for gays, the answer is a huge and perhaps decisive difference (Tod Lindberg, (The Washington Times)

  • As the smoke clears, conservatives can target gays | Another benefit of Delaware's Clean Indoor Smoking Act has only recently become apparent: It keeps the state's conservative ideologues so agitated they've hardly bothered to rail against gay marriage. (The News Journal, Delaware)

  • Gay 'marriages' tangle European laws | If you´re married in Holland, are you still married when you move to Austria? Not if it's a homosexual union (The Washington Times)

Sexual ethics:

  • Priest told to stop giving out pamphlets | A Roman Catholic diocese in western Pennsylvania has ordered a priest to stop distributing an anti-gay sex pamphlet that it says "borders on the pornographic." (Associated Press)

  • Better health, better lives for sex workers | Sound health policy requires an approach that helps liberate children and adults from the sex slave trade while securing condoms, health care and protection from police violence for those who remain (Holly Burkhalter, The Washington Post)

  • Falsified data not included in AIDS study, officials say | The dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine says that fake interviews taken for an AIDS-prevention study were discovered and discounted before the study was published (The Washington Times)

  • Keep sodomy ban, commission says | Virginia needs a new law that complies with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-sodomy statues, but the state should keep its existing sodomy ban as a nonworking, unconstitutional relic, the state Crime Commission said yesterday (The Washington Times)

  • Aborigines slam law banning sex with kids | Aborigines in northern Australia are upset over a new law banning them from having sex with brides aged under 16, a prominent indigenous leader said Wednesday. (Associated Press)

  • Condom-mania | The pope, a venerable leader throughout the Christian world, says don't do it. Tony Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C., says, please, indulge yourself. Whose advice would you follow? (Deborah Simmons, The Washington Times)

  • Vestavia Hills pastor faces sex charge | A Vestavia Hills pastor surrendered Thursday after a Jefferson County grand jury indicted him on a sex-related charge. (The Birmingham News, Alabama)

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  • Milford church raises porn shop's rent | The owner of an adults-only video store says Kingdom Life Christian Church has raised his rent by $500 a month in an attempt to make money off of pornography. (New Haven Register)

Gay issues:

  • Wanna move to Australia? Be gay | Australia beckons gay couples. In a landmark judgement, an Australian High Court ruled that the country would give refugee status to homosexuals who would have to live 'discreetly' to avoid persecution in their homeland. (The Times of India)

  • Anti-gay monument gets 'no' vote | Decision not to recommend to city unanimous (The Idaho Statesman, Boise)

  • Congregations split on gay ordination | Uniting Church congregations disaffected over gay ordination are forming a new network despite moves by the national leadership to defuse resentment. (The Age, Australia)

Gene Robinson:

  • Person of the Year: V. Gene Robinson | For his grace under the pressure of a worldwide debate and for his steadfast focus on his mission to open God's church to all people on the margins (The Advocate, gay magazine)

  • A different Episcopalian | A gay Episcopalian youth has something to say about the strong support for an openly gay bishop and a potential church split (The Advocate, gay magazine)

  • Episcopal Church in tumult over issue of gay bishop | Robinson's consecration has had worldwide impact (Associated Press)

  • A secular agenda for the church | Gene Robinson, the new Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, is by all accounts a decent, kind and friendly man, just the sort of good neighbor we all want. So you have to wonder why he's willing to wreck his church (Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times)

Anglican communion:

  • Conservatives could spark Anglican split | Religion is booming throughout the country. There are tiny evangelical churches at every street corner and scattered throughout the countryside and Islam continues to add adherents, especially in the North of the country. (Globe and Mail, Canada)

  • U.S. Episcopalians pursue alternative | Conservative Episcopalians have moved quickly in the month since the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the denomination's first openly homosexual bishop to set up an alternate denomination that has legal and ecumenical clout (The Washington Times)

  • Bishop asserts there's room for gays | Speaking to his diocese, L.A. Episcopal leader J. Jon Bruno backs consecration of N.H. clergyman and supports same-sex unions (Los Angeles Times)

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  • Tapping into a spiritual desire | Despite ongoing debates within the Church of England, Moya Ratnayake, a Ministry Youth Worker in Richmond, is certain religion has a place in the lives of the borough's young people. (Richmond and Twickenham Times, UK)

Church life:

  • Wanted: 'Unfit' Sunday school teachers | A recent "Newsmakers" story noted that men might have an extra incentive for attending a certain church: Pamela Anderson is teaching Sunday school there. But isn't it a bit strange for someone like Anderson to be a Sunday school teacher? Maybe. But it's just as strange to have someone like me teaching Sunday school (American News, Aberdeen S.D.)

  • Road to ministry took dance detour | The Rev. Norman V. Beale of St. Mark's Episcopal Church came to the ministry via an unusual route: he danced. (Westford Eagle, Massachusetts)

  • Scripture becomes script | The Seashore Community Church of the Nazarene is hosting a display that spans almost 10 acres. Each arriving group will be assigned its own wise man and take in five nativity scenes on the church's sprawling property off Seashore Road. Golf carts and wheelchairs will be provided for those who need them. Lower Township police will be directing traffic. (Press of Atlantic City)

  • Area churches prepare to make a joyful noise for holiday season | Free Christmas concerts scheduled this weekend (Baltimore Sun)

  • City wants to change church plan to avoid suit | An amendment before the Planning Commission would make the city not liable for damage from Prince of Peace's trees (Daily Pilot, Newport Beach, Calif.)

  • Cleared deacon says he forgives accusers | After a year and a half of accusations, distrustful stares and legal maneuvering, anyone could forgive Jessie Guerrero for feeling angry (Amarillo Globe News, Tex.)

Carl Henry:

  • Christian theologian Carl F.H. Henry | Carl F.H. Henry, 90, a theologian and author who helped shape modern Christian evangelicalism through his influential writings and as founding editor of Christianity Today magazine, died Dec. 7 at a nursing home in Watertown, Wis. He had a heart ailment. (Washington Post)

  • First Editor of Christianity Today Dies | Theologian Carl F.H. Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today and a leading voice in the evangelical movement, has died. He was 90. (Associate Press)

  • Carl Henry | Carl Henry, who has died aged 90, was the first editor of Christianity Today and was credited (with Billy Graham) with sparking the revival of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity; Charles Colson, former special counsel to President Richard Nixon, described him as "the man who led the evangelical movement out of its wilderness and brought it into the 20th century". (The Telegraph, UK)

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Other deaths:

Church and state:

  • Potential church-state landmark before court | This case, if decided in favor of Mr. Davey, could indeed have breathtaking implications (Leo Sandon, Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)

  • Court is asked to block false complaints against I.R.S. | Nearly 2,000 bogus misconduct complaints against Internal Revenue Service agents were filed as part of a long-running fraud by a group that calls itself a Christian ministry to obstruct the federal income tax laws, the Justice Department said in papers filed yesterday in a court in Florida (The New York Times)

Roy Moore and Ten Commandments:

  • Ten Commandments judge files appeal to win back job | Stripped of his position for refusing a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse, Alabama's former chief justice has asked the state's highest court to give him his job back. (Reuters)

  • School board asks 6th Circuit to restore commandments displays | A southern Ohio school board asked a federal appeals court late last week to allow the display of the Ten Commandments at public high schools in Adams County (Associated Press)

  • A most unusual lawyer | A homeless man with psychological scars is challenging Texas over a Ten Commandments statue. The Supreme Court may take his case (Los Angeles Times)

Christmas displays:

  • College Pt. mom sues over school Nativity scene policy | Andrea Skoros says policy forbids the Nativity scene in holiday displays and unfairly encourages the use of Jewish and Muslim religious symbols in schools (Bayside Times, Queens, N.Y.)

  • Nativity exhibit returns to Pleasanton church | Lynnewood United Methodist Church church is hoping to reconnect people to the religious roots of Christmas with a display of more than 300 nativity scenes from around the world (Tri-Valley Herald, Pleasanton, Calif.)

  • Are we Christians? The answer's on a card | It features Hindu dancers, drawings of mosques and the word "Goal" but there is no sign of Jesus, Mary or even Santa Claus in this year's Christmas card from the Department of Culture (The Daily Telegraph, London)

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  • Season of anticipation | Patience generally is not counted among American virtues. So it's a bit of a surprise that more and more U.S. churches appear to be embracing a custom based on anticipation, waiting and expectation. (The Columbian, Wash.)

  • Christmas in Japan | The difference is that here, where it is largely bereft of religious significance, the Christmas season is like a holly-wreathed Potemkin village: all facade and nothing behind it, except for a peek preview of Valentine's Day (Editorial, The Japan Times)


Church billboard:

  • Church ad sparks controversy | A billboard some people are finding offensive was put up by a Christian pastor who says he's just trying to crack a stereotype that his congregation is boring. (Canadian Press)

  • Church did Blah ad | LightHouse billboard taken out of context (The Winnipeg Sun)


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  • Vehicle fish 'species' are proliferating | It is a battle, children, for the hearts—yea, verily, for the everlasting souls—of America's trunks and bumpers. It is a battle of words and wills, and fish. Lots and lots of fish (Cox News Service)





  • High Court stops church convention | The Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has halted the annual Conference of Qua Iboe Church of Nigeria billed to commence on Monday in Calabar, Cross River State. (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)

  • Spiritans launch video on 300-year mission work | As the Spiritans mark 300 years of their existence this year, the congregation's District of Kenya has launched a video tape detailing its mission activities in the East African country. (Catholic Information Service for Africa)

  • Cardinal Supports Proposed Family Law | Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala said yesterday that Catholics have no problem with the proposed new family law, the Domestic Relations bill. Muslim leaders are particularly incensed by a clause, which would ban polygamy, long a practice of their religion. (The Monitor, Kampala)

  • 700 security personnel mobilized for Bonnke's crusade in Warri | Simeon Okah stated that another 10,000 personnel made up of private security outfits working in most of the churches in Warri have been co-opted into the security arrangements to ensure adequate protection of worshippers as well as ensure orderliness (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria)


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  • Vietnam's new cardinal holds first church service | Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics Tuesday celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in Vietnam's largest city with the newest cardinal appointed by the Vatican and approved by the communist government (Reuters)

  • Reported detained Protestants released in Vietnam | Authorities in Vietnam have released 16 Protestants, including two pastors, who were picked up in Ho Chi Minh city, reportedly for carrying or distributing Christian tracts at the Southeast Asian Games. (ABC Radio Australia)




  • Iraq's Christian community taking initiative | Isam Ghattas, head of the Jordanian-based Manara Ministries, an evangelical relief and development agency, said by e- mail, "My heart was encouraged and strengthened at seeing the brothers and sisters in the churches [and] communities in our … network. They are taking initiative to revive their people and to work in their communities and to offer whatever comfort and encouragement they find themselves able to." (Talon News)

  • Secular leaders worry that, torn by turmoil, Iraqis will elect an Islamic theocracy | For many Iraqi officials, an unspoken fear hovers like a wraith in the background of every debate over the popular elections that are supposed to take place here in June (The New York Times)


  • Indonesian Christians once again living in fear | As Christmas approaches, Christians in Indonesia's Sulawesi province are worried that despite an influx of troops and police, the deteriorating security situation of the last two months may worsen. (

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  • Convert exploiting blasphemy law to settle scores? | While minorities in Pakistan often complain of Muslims using the blasphemy law to implicate them falsely, in probably the first instance of its kind, Christian residents of a Shahdara locality claim that a young man who recently converted to Islam is abusing the law to settle scores with Christians. (Daily Times, Pakistan)

Christian discrimination:

  • Teacher: College recalls job offer over sexual orientation | For the last two years, Dr. Barbara Kelly has worked part-time as a teacher at North Park University. The Christian college recruited Kelly for a full-time tenured position only to take away the offer after learning her sexual orientation. (ABC7, Chicago)

  • Lesbian sues North Park University for discrimination | Barbara Kelly, a psychologist and professor, said she was denied a teaching job in North Park's School of Adult Learning because of her sexual orientation and her interpretation of Christianity. Kelly was recruited by North Park for a full-time, tenured teaching slot after successfully teaching there as an openly gay adjunct faculty. (Windy City Media, Chicago)

  • Woman claims bias in firing from clinic | The collision of two faiths inside a Nashville methadone clinic created a hostile climate that cost a woman her job, according to discrimination claims she filed last week in U.S. District Court (The Tennessean, Nashville)

  • Also: Woman claims she was fired over her faith | Laura Bogan claims in a federal lawsuit that workplace discrimination against her Baha'i faith helped cost her a job at a methadone clinic (Associated Press)

Religious freedom:

  • Library's anti-religious poster policy met with disbelief | A controversial decision by High Wycombe library to ban religious material from its notice board has been met with a mixture of amazement and incredulity. (Bucks Free Press, Brittan)

  • Religious freedom panel stalls China trip | A federal commission that supports religious freedom said Monday it had postponed a scheduled trip to China because of what it called unacceptable conditions imposed by the Chinese government. (Associated Press)

French ban Islamic headscarves:

  • France awaits headscarves report | Muslim girls in France are set to find out if they are likely to be banned from wearing headscarves in schools. (BBC)

  • French chief rabbi opposes ban on veil | France's chief rabbi has added a Jewish voice to the choir of Christian churches calling on President Jacques Chirac to stand firm against a growing movement to ban the Muslim veil in public schools and offices. (Reuters)

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  • French Close 2 Islamic Day Care Centers; Cite Scarf on Girl, 3 | The kindergarten and the day care center, which were attended by 42 children, were closed Dec. 2 after the local prefect received information from intelligence agencies that they were being run by Islamic groups. (The New York Times)

  • Ban religious attire in school, French panel says | A report delivered to President Jacques Chirac on Thursday called for a new law banning the wearing of "conspicuous" religious symbols in French public schools — large crosses for Christians, head scarves for Muslim girls, or skullcaps for Jewish boys. (The New York Times)

  • French panel favors ban on head scarves | A presidential commission on Thursday backed a ban on Islamic head scarves in public schools—stepping into the wrenching debate over how to preserve the country's secular identity while integrating France's Muslim population, the largest in Western Europe. (Associated Press)

  • France urged to ban religious symbols in schools | Panel targets skullcaps, veils and large crosses in effort to reaffirm secularism (Reuters)

  • French panel recommends ban of religious symbols | Muslim head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large crosses should be banned from French public schools, according to a report presented yesterday to President Jacques Chirac. (United Press International)

  • Liberty, equality, fraternity … secularity | The principle of the secular republic, which allows freedom of worship but endorses no particular religion, is one that has been fought for in France since the 1789 revolution. (The Guardian, UK)


Jews and Christians:

  • Christians condemn anti-Semitism | Leaders of Canada's largest churches speak out against 'alarming increase' (Vancouver Sun)

  • Thousands of 'ethnic Jews' are Christians: study | The Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) has re-crunched some numbers from the 2001 Canadian census and found that of the 348,610 Canadians who said they were at least partly ethnically Jewish, about 10 per cent were Catholics and Protestants. (Canadian Jewish News)

EU Constitution:

  • EU spars over fine print in Constitution | The vision of an integrated Europe capable of rivaling the United States on the global stage is at stake in this week's battle over the European Union's first-ever constitution. (Associated Press)

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Archbishop of Greece calls Turks barbarians:

  • Christodoulos 'respects Turks' | Watering down his controversial contention that Turks are "barbarians" who should not be allowed into the European Union, the head of the Church of Greece on Saturday voiced "respect for the Turkish people" (Kathimerini, Athens)

  • Archbishop says he walks virtue's road | Archbishop Christodoulos yesterday refused to back down in the face of the political storm that followed his declaration on Thursday that the Turks are "barbarians" who should not be allowed to join the EU, which he called "the family of Christians." (Kathimerini, Athens)

  • Earlier: Greek archbishop brands Turks 'barbarians' | The head of the Orthodox Christian Church in Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, has provoked a diplomatic storm with neighbouring Turkey by describing Turks as barbarians who should not be allowed to join the EU (BBC)

  • Orthodox leader denounces Turks | The leader of Greece's powerful Orthodox Church, called Turks "barbarians" and said the predominantly Muslim country should not join the European Union because "we cannot live together." (Chicago Tribune)


  • Archdiocese to give locals input on church closings | A soon-to-be-unveiled plan to reduce the number of parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston is likely to allow considerable input at the local level, people familiar with the process said. (Boston Herald)

  • Night and day, faithful express their devotion | Volunteers pray in shifts around the clock in perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They testify to serenity and strength that result (Los Angeles Times)

  • Hard-wired for God | Only something extraordinary could entice the Carmelite nuns of Montreal to break their vow of silence and venture out of the cloister: They have joined forces with science to look for a concrete sign from God—inside the human brain (Anne McIlroy, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

  • Run of abuse claims seen | Those who say they were molested by priests face a year-end deadline for filing legal actions. Settlement talks are continuing (Los Angeles Times)

  • Police probe death of convicted priest | A retired Roman Catholic priest who admitted molesting three altar boys in 1995 was found beaten to death at his home, police said Saturday (Associated Press)

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  • 64 die in Congo from anti-sorcery potion | Congo health officials on Thursday were investigating the poison deaths of 64 people, allegedly from a potion used to ward off evil spirits. The Roman Catholic priest who allegedly administered the drink fled the village of Bosobe early last week after people started falling ill. (Associated Press)

  • Our Lady: Not just for Catholics | Latinos' long-revered Virgen de Guadalupe, whose feast day is today, now occupies a place in other denominations. (Los Angles Times)


  • At St. Patrick's, a fragment of an Aztec saint's cloak | In the culminating stop of a 20-city tour, a piece of the venerated cloak, or tilma, of St. Juan Diego arrived at the cathedral yesterday and took its place on a side altar beneath a portrait of the Virgin Mary known as Our Lady of Guadalupe (The New York Times)

  • V & A raises £250,000 to keep Nativity miniature in Britain | A 500-year-old Nativity scene believed to have been brought to England by Henry VIII's sister, and which was to have been sold to an American buyer, will stay in Britain after a fund-raising campaign by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. (The Telegraph)

  • 'Lord's Supper' may be shown again | Every week, tourists come to Fort Worth seeking Jesus. In wax (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.)


  • Spiritual tourism | If you want to get ahead, get a god. Not full time - that would be de trop - but an occasional divinity to be conveniently rotated with the medium, the dowser and whoever else you've hand-picked to form your personal spiritual advisory board. (The Guardian)

  • Looking for 'real' | The quest for authenticity led to the Renaissance, prompted the journey to the New World and inspired Thoreau. Now it's all about buying a better life. (Los Angeles Times)

  • The pagan origins of Christmas traditions | Offering a New Age explanation, the richly illustrated The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas, by John Matthews, describes the links between ancient midwinter celebrations and Christian traditions (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Taking faith to higher level | High School Round Table members say their beliefs are based on a blend of many religions (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)


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  • P.O.D. cover artist speaks out on Christian ban | Daniel Martin Diaz, the artist who did the cover art for P.O.D.'s new Payable On Death album, says it's "ironic" that the album has been banned by 85 percent of Christian bookstores in the U.S., reportedly because the cover is "occult." (Launch)


  • Tolkien trilogy explores faith, spirituality, hope in face of evil | There's a huge buzz particularly among religion writers and Christian educators eager to see what director Peter Jackson does with the end of J.R.R. Tolkien's spiritual saga. (Detroit Free Press)

  • Religious movie offers biblical lesson | A new film coming to Evansville could make a Saturday night at the movies seem more like Sunday School. But creators of The Gospel of John promise the same type of thrill and excitement of a non-biblical blockbuster. (WTVW, Evansville, Ind.)

  • Groundhog almighty | A new movie series from the Museum of Modern Art, "The Hidden God: Film and Faith," features some pretty brooding stuff—with one exception (The New York Times)


  • Buffy sainthood observation | The silliness of the name and the premise that a blond Valley Girl can overcome evil gave way to scholarly consideration of spiritual themes undertaken by the television series: redemption, resurrection, selflessness, guilt and existential angst, among other subjects (The Washington Post)

  • Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble | From cult to camp, disgraced televangelist Tammy Faye is reborn with film, book and TV deals that celebrate her surreal life (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)



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Christians on campus:

  • Students lose yearbook-photo battle | Trustees decide against allowing Fountain Valley High seniors to take a new picture that would spell out a Christian message. (Los Angles Times)

  • Always room for a nativity | Is the traditional Christian nativity play still justified in the schools of today's multi-faith Britain? (The Independent)


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