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Asia Bibi condemned to death for blasphemy


The story goes like this. Asia Bibi is a Catholic woman living in a small village near Lahore, Pakistan. She works as a farmhand, is married and the mother of five children. Earlier this year, a dispute erupted with other farmhands when she refused to convert from Christianity to Islam. Some stories say that she made a remark like this one: “Jesus Christ died for my sins; what did Mohammed ever do for you?”

Earlier NCR coverage of the Phoenix case


Phoenix hospital deadline extended until Tues. Dec. 21



CONTACT: Rob DeFrancesco, Director of Communications
O: 602-354-2130 / M: 602-751-2720

Deadline for resolution between Diocese of Phoenix and Catholic Healthcare West extended to Tuesday, Dec. 21

PHOENIX (Dec. 17, 2010) — The Diocese of Phoenix has been in continuing conversation with Catholic Healthcare West about their Catholic identity and adherence to the teachings of the Church regarding their facilities within the Diocese of Phoenix. Late on Thursday, Dec. 16, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was in receipt of further communication from Catholic Healthcare West officials. Given the ongoing communication and attempts to rectify the situation, Bishop Olmsted is extending his deadline until Tuesday, Dec. 21.


Time's Top Ten Religion Stories


Here is Time magazine's list of top ten religion stories for 2010

Top 10 Religion Stories

* Park51: The "Ground Zero Mosque"
* The Vatican and the Child Abuse Scandal
* The Bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral
* Franklin Graham vs. the Muslims
* The Rev. Terry Jones Threatens to Burn Korans
* Women Priests, In Spite of the Vatican
* The Pope Doesn't Quite Endorse Condoms
* Christians Under Attack in the Middle East
* Obama Decides Not to Visit the Golden Temple
* The Vatican and Homer Simpson

Read more: All of Time's Lists

Vatican rips China for 'intolerance' and 'repression'



tA blistering Vatican statement today accuses China of “unacceptable and hostile acts” during a recent government-orchestrated assembly of Chinese Catholics, which it said smacked of “fear and weakness," a "repressive attitude” and “intransigent intolerance,” producing a “grave loss of trust.”

tNot only is it unusual for the Vatican to target a specific country in such public fashion, but today’s statement also ruptures the quiet diplomacy that has characterized the Vatican’s “China policy” since the papacy of Paul VI.

tMost observers say the current row marks the most serious crisis in Sino-Vatican relations in recent memory, with one prominent Catholic expert on China gloomily claiming that things are headed “back to the time of Mao.”

tThough there are no reliable religious statistics in China, conventional estimate peg the country’s Catholic population at around 13 million. China has long been a top diplomatic priority of the Vatican, not only because of its status as an emerging global superpower, but because China experts believe there’s significant potential for missionary expansion if the climate for religious freedom were to improve.

Bishop Olmsted's ultimatum


We just posted a story about Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted's ultimatum to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center: Follow my orders or lose my endorsement.

Mike Clancy, a reporter for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, broke the story yesterday. He subsequently agreed to write a story for us. We didn't rush to post the story, because we wanted to see if we could get deeper into the story after the initial flurry that inevitably follows the breaking of a story like this.

Circus performers at the Vatican


This from "Michael Sean Winters' "Can't Stop Laughing" Department.

Four acrobats took their circus act to the Vatican yesterday, performing for Pope Benedict during his weekly general audience. The men took off their shirts as they came on stage to begin their show, which lasted a few minutes. They lifted each other in acrobatic poses, keeping balance with their bodies supported only by their arms, at one point creating a human tower. The pope looked on, and at the end of the performance he clapped and briefly got up as he greeted them. The group is called the Pellegrini Brothers and were invited as part of a convention on circuses organized by the Vatican's office for migrants.

Morning Briefing (corrected)


I fixed the links that were broken. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Phoenix: Church role in St. Joseph's Hospital care debated

Phoenix: Readers chat with Republic reporter about bishop's order

Seoul: KKorean priests lose confidence in their cardinal

Lawrenceville, Ga.: Church set to buy land, Waste transfer station once proposed for area

Detroit, Mich.: Churches offer services for those feeling blue

WikiLeaks source held in solitary confinement for seven months


Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to the international organization WikiLeaks, has been held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for the last seven months, reports Glenn Greenwald in an article for the online magazine Salon.

Manning, who was arrested by agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command July 5, is suspected of leaking the "Collateral Murder" video -- which shows an U.S. Apache helicopter attack which led to the deaths of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists -- and U.S. diplomatic cables.

In isolation, Greenwald reports, Manning is barred from exercising and has been denied access to even "a pillow or sheets for his bed."

Amdist it all, "the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation."


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