- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 6, 2007


Church pleased as flock grows

MOSCOW — The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in his Christmas Eve message yesterday, expressed satisfaction with the growth of the church and called for peace in the Middle East.

“Ever more people are returning to the homeland faith, churches are filled with parishioners of all ages, millions of people are reading spiritual literature and taking part in church affairs,” Patriarch Alexy II said.

The Russian Orthodox Church, such as some other Orthodox churches, including the one in Serbia, observes Christmas on Jan. 7 because it follows the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar, adopted by Roman Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world.

The Russian church has seen a strong revival since the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union in 1991. It claims more than 27,000 parishes and 700 monasteries throughout the former Soviet Union.


Pope seeks spirituality amid globalization push

VATICAN CITY — Religious leaders of all faiths must play a role in ensuring that the spiritual and cultural aspects of life are not forgotten as mankind tackles the challenges of globalization, Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday.

In his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said recent decades have seen a “challenge to global civilization, where the center can no longer be Europe and not even that which we call the West or the North of the world.”

The pope said that while politicians, scientists and researchers play important roles in the modern world, “today, more than ever, it is necessary to place at their side the leaders of the great non-Christian religious traditions” as well as Christian leaders.

He made the remarks during the Epiphany Mass, which recalls the journey of the three wise men guided by a star to pay homage to the baby Jesus.


Pork-only charity banned by judge

PARIS — A top French judge ruled that an extreme-right group cannot serve pork soup to the needy, saying the charitable handouts aim to discriminate against Muslims and Jews who don’t eat pork because of their faith.

Judge Christian Vigouroux of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative body, said late Friday that such giveaways by the group Solidarity of the French threaten public order.

His ruling approved a decision by Paris police to refuse permits to the group on the grounds that such handouts could spark angry reactions.

France is home to more than 5 million Muslims and some 600,000 Jews. Both Islam and Judaism prohibit eating pork.


Missing body found after airport bombing

MADRID — Workers yesterday recovered the body of an Ecuadorean teenager killed a week earlier in a massive blast at Madrid’s international airport that was blamed on violent Basque separatist group ETA, police said.

Diego Armando Estacio’s body had been detected Friday using high-tech fiber-optic viewing equipment, but recovery efforts were hampered by hundreds of tons of rubble, police said.

Joan Mesquida, director of the Civil Guard police force, told reporters that Mr. Estacio’s body would be flown to his native Ecuador once forensic tests were done to determine the cause of death.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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