New Christ statue in Brazil to be taller than Rio’s

A new statue of Christ being built in Brazil will be taller than the famous Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Christ the Protector in the southern city of Encantado will be 43m (140 ft) high with its pedestal, making it the world’s third tallest Jesus statue. A head and outstretched arms were added to the structure last week, which was begun in 2019. The idea came from local politician Adroaldo Conzatti, who died in March with Covid-19. The $350,000 (£255,000) project is expected to be completed later in the year, the Association of the Friends of Christ group which … Continue reading New Christ statue in Brazil to be taller than Rio’s

Catholic Church ‘cannot bless same-sex unions’

The Catholic Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions, the Vatican office responsible for doctrine has said. It is “impossible” for God to “bless sin”, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said on Monday, but the CDF did note the “positive elements” in same-sex relationships. In October, Pope Francis said in a documentary that he thought same-sex couples should be allowed to have “civil unions”. In the Catholic Church, a blessing is given by a priest or other minister in the name of the Church. On Monday, Pope Francis approved the response by the … Continue reading Catholic Church ‘cannot bless same-sex unions’

Malaysia High Court rules Christians can use ‘Allah’

Malaysia’s high court has overturned a policy banning Christians from using the word “Allah” to refer to God, the latest in a decades-long legal battle. It comes as part of a case brought by a Christian whose religious materials were seized as they contained the word. The issue of non-Muslims using “Allah” has in the past sparked tension and violence in Malaysia. Muslims make up almost two-thirds of the population, but there are also large Christian communities. These Christian communities argue that they have used the word “Allah”, which entered Malay from Arabic, to refer to their God for centuries … Continue reading Malaysia High Court rules Christians can use ‘Allah’

Cyprus defends Eurovision song over devil worship

Cyprus’ national broadcaster says it won’t be withdrawing the country’s Eurovision entry, despite criticism from religious leaders. The Orthodox Church of Cyprus claims Elena Tsagrinou’s song El Diablo promotes devil worship, but Elena says the song is, in fact, about an abusive relationship. The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation has also said the lyrics to El Diablo have been misinterpreted. A statement came from the church’s highest decision-making body, the Holy Synod, after a man was charged with threatening people outside a Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) building. He was protesting the entry of a “blasphemous” song into Eurovision. The Synod said that … Continue reading Cyprus defends Eurovision song over devil worship

Israel army faces battle over beards

Israel’s military is facing a challenge on the home front unrelated to traditional threats against the Jewish state: it’s over facial hair, and activists say the army’s future is at stake. Bar Pinto and Gilad Levi are campaigning for Israeli soldiers to be allowed to grow beards Bar Pinto and Gilad Levi, two red-bearded 29-year-olds, have founded “Beard Exemptions for All” (“Ptor Zakan Lekulam” in Hebrew), a campaign challenging Israeli military rules compelling all male troops to be clean-shaven. Pinto and Levi have taken issue with a system that grants exemptions to that rule on religious grounds, while the faces of … Continue reading Israel army faces battle over beards

Rihanna’s topless Hindu god photo sparks outrage in India

Pop icon Rihanna has been accused of mocking a Hindu god after she was pictured topless with a pendant of Ganesha around her neck. Images of the lingerie photoshoot, that sparked a furore in India, came just weeks after Rihanna upset the Indian government by commenting on the huge farmers’ protests. The latest tweet to the superstar’s more than 100 million Twitter followers is part of promotions for Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage X Fenty. The photo was also shared on her Instagram account, which has 91.4 million followers. Social media users and politicians in India said her post was “derogatory”, … Continue reading Rihanna’s topless Hindu god photo sparks outrage in India

Five held for death threats over video critical of Islam

Five people have been detained on suspicion of making death threats to a French teenager who posted videos critical of Islam, prosecutors say. Mila, 17, had to change schools last year after an Instagram video for her friends in which she criticised Islam was widely shared on social media. She then posted another video on social media site TikTok last November which prompted a new wave of online threats, she was getting about 30 hate messages a minute at one point, her lawyer said. France’s online hate crimes task force took over the case. Mila, who is known in France … Continue reading Five held for death threats over video critical of Islam

Pope Francis appoints first woman to senior Synod post with voting rights

Pope Francis celebrates a mass. Pope Francis has appointed a woman as an undersecretary to the Synod of Bishops for the first time, a post that brings voting rights in a body dealing with some of the most controversial issues facing the Catholic Church. Nathalie Becquart, 52 years old and from France, has been a “consultant” since 2019 to the synod, the bishops’ body responsible for studying major questions of doctrine. The appointment signals the pontiff’s desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of … Continue reading Pope Francis appoints first woman to senior Synod post with voting rights

Indonesia bans forced religious attire in schools

Indonesia has banned public schools from making religious attire compulsory, after the story of a non-Muslim student being forced to wear a headscarf in class went viral. “This is an individual’s right… It is not the school’s decision,” Indonesia’s Minister for Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim said. The government has given schools 30 days to revoke any existing rules, they may face sanctions if they do not comply. The move comes after a non-Muslim student in a vocational school in Padang was repeatedly asked to wear a Muslim headscarf in class. She refused, and her parents were called to speak … Continue reading Indonesia bans forced religious attire in schools

Muslim Council of Britain elects its first female leader

The United Kingdom’s largest Muslim umbrella body has elected its first female secretary general. Zara Mohammed, 29, was on Sunday voted to lead the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) during the organisation’s annual general meeting, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is also the youngest person to head the MCB, which was founded 24 years ago. Mohammed will hold the secretary general post for a two-year term. A training and development consultant from Glasgow, Scotland, Mohammed scooped 107 votes to beat opponent Ajmal Masroor, an imam who secured 60 votes. Mohammed, who holds a Master’s degree … Continue reading Muslim Council of Britain elects its first female leader

Two men publicly caned 77 times for having sex in Indonesia

Two men in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province were publicly caned each 77 times Thursday after neighbors reported them to Islamic religious police for having sex.© Provided by NBC News Dozens of people witnessed the caning at Banda Aceh’s Tamansari city park. It’s the third time that Aceh, the only province in Indonesia to practice Shariah law, has caned people for homosexuality since the Islamic law was implemented in 2015 as a concession made by the government to end a long-running separatist rebellion. The men, aged 27 and 29, were whipped across the back and winced with pain as a team … Continue reading Two men publicly caned 77 times for having sex in Indonesia

Former head of Vatican bank found guilty of embezzlement

A former head of the Vatican bank, Angelo Caloia, has been found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering and sentenced to eight years and 11 months in prison, making him the highest-ranking Vatican official to be convicted of a financial crime. The Vatican court on Thursday also convicted Gabriele Liuzzo, 97, and his son Lamberto Liuzzo, 55, both Italian lawyers who were consultants to the bank. Caloia led the bank, officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), from 1989 to 2009, the 81-year-old Italian was tried over corrupt real estate deals. He was accused of conspiring … Continue reading Former head of Vatican bank found guilty of embezzlement