The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has written to leaders of the three main political parties, arguing that amendments are needed to the same-sex marriage bill in order to preserve freedom of speech and religion.
In the letter rhe archbishop urged the Prime Minister, David Cameron, the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband to allow their MPs a free vote in debating any amendments.
Along with the letter, the archbishop enclosed a briefing document on amendments the Church would like to see added to the bill, including a clause specifying that criticism of same-sex marriage does not constitute discrimination; schools will not be forced to promote or endorse gay marriage; registrars will be allowed a conscientious objection to not perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and religious groups will be protected from legal penalties if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
You can read the briefing document here.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyons, surprised leaders of France's new United Protestant Church by speculating aloud about daring ecumenical leaps forward that the two Churches might make to further Christian unity.
Addressing the synod marking the fusion of France's small Presbyterian and Lutheran Churches, Cardinal Barbarin declared, "I have a dream" in English, adding: "Sometimes, my mind soars to imagine a totally unexpected scenario that will come from God and advance by leaps and bounds to the unity we so want."
Noting intercommunion is a frequent issue between denominations, he said the view that this would be the culmination of a unity process should not be a reason to do nothing.
Revd Laurent Schlumberger, the head of the United Protestant Church in France, described Cardinal Barbarin's suggestions as a "major advance".
Cardinal Kurt Koch forcefully emphasised that the Church's relations with Jews are different in kind from its relations with all other religions.
"We Christians must not bear witness in relation to the Jews to a path of salvation which is completely foreign to them, as we do with other religions," the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews said on a visit to Jerusalem last week.
"This is because the New Testament is built up totally on the basis of the Old Testament. The Catholic Church therefore does not have an organised Jewish mission, as certain Evangelical groups do."
The cardinal was speaking at a fringe meeting of the Joint Commission for Jewish-Catholic Dialogue on 9 May.
The Vatican has told Cardinal Keith O'Brien to leave Scotland immediately.
In a statement on Wednesday it said the cardinal, who admitted in February to sexual impropriety, would in agreement with Pope Francis "be leaving Scotland for several months for the purpose of spiritual renewal, prayer and penance".
The statement added that any decision regarding future arrangements for the cardinal would have to be agreed with the Holy See.
O'Brien's resignation as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh was accepted early by the Vatican in February after allegations of sexual misconduct by him appeared in the press.
Cardinal O'Brien left Scotland for a time following his resignation. It is understood that Scottish church leaders were not informed when he returned to the country. He was planning to move into a house owned by the parish of Our Lady of the Waves, Dunbar.
Photo: CNS/Paul Haring
Nearly one in three of Polish women admits to having had an abortion, usually illegally, a new survey by the Polish Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS) has found. The poll of 3,576 women was conducted over the past six months.
The results shocked the staunchly Catholic country with one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in Europe, which only permits a woman an abortion through Poland's universal health care if she is raped, if her health is at risk, or if the foetus is severely deformed.
The Polish Government reports an average of just 300 legal abortions performed a year in the country of 38 million people.
The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning estimates that some 80-200,000 abortions in a year might be performed on Polish women illegally.
In addition, Germany, the Czech Republic and the UK are favoured destinations of Polish women seeking abortions.
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