- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2007

Multifaith center for China Games

BEIJING — Games organizers say they plan to build a multifaith worship center in the Olympic Village, a striking move in a country that heavily restricts all religious activity.

“All will be arranged in accordance with the practices … adopted by other Olympic host cities,” Liu Bainian, vice president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said in the official China Daily newspaper.

Mr. Liu said Chinese Catholics were preparing to welcome visitors to churches in Beijing and the six other host cities with multilingual priests.

The Communist Party-controlled association governs China’s Catholic churches, while other state-controlled bodies keep watch over the country’s Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and Protestants.



Worship in non-state-recognized churches and temples is illegal and other religions have no official recognition.

Christian mission groups from around the world plan to quietly defy the Chinese ban on foreign missionaries and send thousands of volunteer evangelists to the event.

Catholic leaders decry abortion

ROME — Roman Catholic leaders in Italy are renewing their fight against abortion after a recent botched procedure involving twins.

Doctors performing the operation in Milan last month were supposed to have terminated one of the babies diagnosed with a genetic condition. Instead, they accidentally aborted the healthy baby, after the fetuses apparently changed position during the procedure.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, former head of the influential Italian bishops’ conference and the pope’s vicar for Rome, said Tuesday that a 1978 law must be reviewed in light of medical advances.

Italy permits abortion in state hospitals up to the end of the third month of pregnancy.

Cardinal Ruini said the “cultural condition” did not exist now for overturning the law altogether, but it could at least be improved, the ANSA news agency reported. He did not say how.

The Italian religious affairs weekly Famiglia Cristiana has devoted an entire issue to the topic, saying the law is based on outdated science, such as the minimum gestation at which a fetus is viable.

Italy’s health minister, Livia Turco, said there was no need to revise the law.

Albania OKs Methodist faith

TIRANA, Albania — Albania, a former communist nation, which is now majority Muslim, has officially recognized the United Methodist Church.

Methodist Bishop Patrick Streiff, leader of the denomination in Central and Southern Europe, signed papers Aug. 20 that formally authorized the church.

About 60 percent of Albanians are Muslim, with the rest of the population divided among Albanian-Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and a slowly expanding Protestant presence.

Methodist missionaries began working in the small Balkan nation in the 19th century, when Albania was part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War II, the nation came under communist control and repressed religion until the 1990s.

In 1997, the United Methodists opened an aid center in the mountain village of Bishnica. The next year, the first 25 persons were baptized and became charter members of the United Methodist Church of Albania. The church now has about 150 members.

Nearly 8 million United Methodists are in the United States, with another 3.5 million church members overseas.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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