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Op-Ed: Future religion: virtual churches and artificial intelligences

Perhaps someday we will attend services in Virtual Reality churches, together with robots and incorporeal Artificial Intelligences.

Dozens of graves defaced in northern France: government

Paris - Dozens of graves have been defaced in a cemetery in northern France, the interior minister said Tuesday, just days after the vandalism of hundreds of Jewish tombs sparked outrage across the country.

Netherlands cancels visas for controversial imams' visit

Den Haag - Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders on Tuesday nixed visas for three controversial imams planning to visit the Netherlands next month, basing his decision on advice from the country's anti-terror agency.

Pedophile priest victims urge action from pope

- Victims of sexually abusive priests from across the Americas joined forces Monday to urge Pope Francis to allow civilian justice to punish pedophiles and those who covered up their crimes.

Attacks in Denmark may have been inspired by magazine massacre

Copenhagen - The gunman believed to have shot and killed two people in Denmark on Sunday appears to have been inspired by last month’s attack on the offices of a satirical French magazine and a grocery store in which 17 were slain.

Spain drops sex abuse charges against nine priests

Madrid - A Spanish court has dropped charges against nine out of ten Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing an altar boy, court papers showed Monday, in a case in which Pope Francis intervened.

Four nuns who founded orders to be made saints: Pope

- Pope Francis announced Saturday that he will elevate four women to sainthood in May, all nuns who lived in the 19th century and founded Catholic orders -- one French, one Italian and two Palestinians.

Condoms vs chocolates in the Philippines on Valentines Day

Manila - A condom maker in the Philippines capital Saturday found their Valentine's Day giveaway challenged by a church group who tried to persuade people to swap the contraceptives for chastity and chocolates.

Pope asks cardinals to back Vatican reform

- Pope Francis on Thursday urged Catholic cardinals to back his plans to reform the scandal-hit Vatican bureaucracy in order to help the Church reach out to believers more effectively, including on issues such as the environment.

Vatican child protection watchdog pulls its punches

- A new Vatican child protection panel called Monday for abusers within the Church to be held accountable for their actions, but stopped short of saying how this should be achieved.

Pope rapped over spanking comments

- Pope Francis came under fire Friday after an off-the-cuff remark in which he defended the right of parents to spank their children.

Pope to make historic US Congress address on Sept 24

Washington - Pope Francis will bring his message of peace and compassion to politically gridlocked Washington in September when he becomes the first pontiff to address the US Congress, lawmakers said Thursday.

Pope rallies clergy to root out cancer of child abuse

- Pope Francis on Thursday warned Catholic clergy they must never try to cover up sexual abuse, as a new Church child protection panel prepares to meet for the first time.

Top Muslim body calls for 'killing, crucifixion' of IS militants

Cairo - Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, expressed outrage at the Islamic State group for burning to death a captive Jordanian pilot, saying its militants deserve to be killed or crucified.

Pope approves martyr status for slain Salvadoran archbishop

Rome - Pope Francis on Tuesday approved a decree declaring slain Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero a martyr for the church.The cleric, a defender of the poor and vocal critic of the military in El Salvador, was shot dead in 1980 while celebrating mass.

Next edition of Charlie Hebdo to appear Feb. 25

Paris - The next edition of Charlie Hebdo will appear on February 25, a journalist from the French satirical magazine said Monday, less than a month after 12 people were killed at their offices."Finally.

China opposes Dalai Lama meeting foreign leaders 'in any form'

Bejing - China said Monday it opposed foreign leaders meeting the Dalai Lama "in any form", ahead of a public appearance by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader with US President Barack Obama.

China cult pair executed for McDonald's killing: court

Yantai - A father and daughter who belonged to a fringe Chinese religious group were executed Monday for beating a woman to death at a McDonald's restaurant, reportedly after she rebuffed their attempts to recruit her.

Pope Francis to visit Sarajevo in June

- Pope Francis said Sunday he plans a June visit to Sarajevo, the city that became a bloody symbol of the Balkans wars of the 1990s.

Spurred by pope, Spanish Catholic Church confronts sexual abuse

Madrid - Spain's Catholic Church, which has long been accused of silencing cases of priests sexually abusing children, is starting to take a hard line against offenders, spurred by Pope Francis.

Pope opens doors to transsexual dubbed 'devil's daughter'

- Pope Francis has met a Spanish transsexual and his fiancée at the Vatican, opening his doors to a man dubbed "the devil's daughter" by a local priest, media reports said Tuesday.

Orban admits Hungarian 'shameful' Holocaust role

Budapest - Many Hungarians chose "bad instead of good" in helping deport Jews to Nazi death camps, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday in his first acknowledgement of his country's complicity in the Holocaust.

Church of England gets first female bishop despite protest

York - The Church of England ended centuries of male-only leadership on Monday as Libby Lane became its first female bishop in a ceremony briefly disrupted by a traditionalist priest's protest.

Church of England gets first female bishop despite split

London - Libby Lane becomes the Church of England's first female bishop on Monday despite entrenched opposition from traditionalists, who say that the clergy's top rung is no place for a woman.

Thousands join anti-Islam rally as Germany worries about image

Berlin - Thousands of people joined a march by the German anti-Islamisation PEGIDA movement on Sunday, the group's first rally since threats surfaced against the group and its leader resigned over "Hitler" photos.

Anti-Muslim acts soar in France since Paris attacks

Paris - The number of anti-Muslim incidents in France has soared since the Paris attacks, with 128 such acts registered over two weeks, almost the same amount as all 2014, a watchdog said Friday.

Beggars taken off the streets for Philippines papal visit

Manila - The Philippines government came under fire Friday after admitting that hundreds of homeless people were taken off Manila's streets and put into luxury accommodation during Pope Francis's recent visit, when he preached compassion for the poor.

Pope sees 'shadows and dangers' amid Vatican attack fears

- Pope Francis on Thursday told Italian police officers in charge of security around the Vatican that he saw "shadows and dangers", but urged them not to give in to fear.

UN meets to confront anti-Semitism after Paris attacks

New York - French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy on Thursday led calls at the United Nations to confront a global rise in anti-Semitism, during a special session held two weeks after the Paris attacks that shocked the world.

Myanmar to look into monk 'whore' slur after UN reproach

Myanmar Thursday said it would look into incendiary comments by the country's most notorious hardline monk who branded a UN envoy a "whore" after strong condemnation from the United Nation's, but indicated it was unlikely to act against the cleric.
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