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News from Europe

European Union 5/29/2010

The European ruled November 2009, that Italy violated human rights regulations by allowing crosses to be displayed in classrooms. The move has been seen as an overreach by the Court which may lead to rulings on other national or cultural symbols. The ruling is being protested formally by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).

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Russia 5/29/2010

Patriarch Kirill I and Pope Benedict XVI call for spread of the gospel through the preservation of European culture. Kirill, the Russia Patriarch, said, "During the years of oppression against the Church and the domination of atheism in the state, when the majority of the population could not come into contact with spiritual music, these works, like Russian literature as well, made possible the dissemination of the Gospel message, bringing to the secular world high moral and spiritual ideals."

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Portugal: Pope Wraps Up Visit. Wrapping up a four-day visit to Portugal aimed at shoring up Christian belief in increasingly secular Europe, but in which he also spoke out against the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Pope Benedict XVI on Friday appealed to Catholics to spread the faith "not only to non-Christians in faraway lands" but also in "socio-cultural environments" closer to home. Celebrating Mass in the northern city of Porto, he added that the church was "ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions.

New York Times Brief

European Union

The New Republic: The End Of The European Church.  These are obviously dark days for the Roman Catholic Church. For over a decade, the U.S. church has been assailed by abuse charges and devastated by the resulting litigation. The Vatican used to console itself with the belief that this was a peculiarly American crisis, but, this year, similar abuse cases have arisen all over Europe — most agonizingly in Ireland, one of the world's most faithfully Catholic countries. Across the continent, bishops are facing demands to resign, while critics are urging Pope Benedict himself to consider standing down. Some media commentators are even asking if the Church can survive the crisis.

But most evidence suggests that the Church will endure and even enjoy a historic boom — just not in places it has flourished historically. For years, its core has been migrating away from Europe, heading southward into Africa and Latin America. Some Church observers have remarked that the Vatican is now in the wrong location: It's 2,000 miles too far north of its emerging homelands. The recent abuse scandals will accelerate this radical shift, discrediting older European elites and opening the door to new generations of leaders who are more attuned to the needs and concerns of believers in the southern hemisphere. Literally, the Catholic world will turn fully upside down.

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Clerical sex abuse dominates Germany's ecumenical church days. MUNICH (CNS) -- Although more than 3,000 displays fought for the attention of hundreds of thousands of German Christians for five days, the topic that got the most attention was the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Even Pope Benedict XVI addressed the issue in his message to the second ecumenical "Kirchentag," or church days, in Munich May 12-16.

The Kirchentag focused on the theme of hope, and the pope said that at a time when the world's people are in need of hope, some people are asking if the church really is a place to find it.

"In the past few months, we repeatedly have had to face news that could attempt to remove the joy from the church, news that obscures it as a place of hope," he said.

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Foreign churches in St. Petersburg: history and fate. Unlike Moscow, known as the third Rome, Russia's "Northern capital" has long been famous for a unique abundance of different religions - and, therefore, a rich variety of foreign churches along the city’s main street.

It all started when the plans of building St. Petersburg were only on paper. In order to help build the city, Peter the Great invited thousands of foreigners from all over Western Europe, offering them a freedom of belief. The result of the initiative is the city’s large collection of religious monuments.

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United Kingdom

While we wouldn't dare say 'boo' to a Muslim here, Christians are persecuted in a Muslim country. David Alton, the man who left the Lib Dems when he realised that they cared more about the rights of a goldfish than an unborn child, has reminded me of the struggle Christians face daily in Iraq.

A bus carrying 80 Christian students to their university in northern Iraq was bombed on 2 May. According to the Washington Post, the most startling thing about the report was that young Christians could attend university at all. Since 2003, Iraq’s Christian community has been subjected to assassinations, kidnappings, extortions and rapes. Over half of the estimated 1.5 million Christians in Iraq (less than 4 per cent of the population) have fled to Syria, Jordan and elsewhere. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has branded Iraq’s religious persecution “of particular concern”, and called on the Obama administration to intervene before the ancient religious commuities (some still praying in Aramaic) are exterminated.

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"And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." I John 2:17