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Pope Francis’ chief alms-giver has announced new plans to install free showers in the public restrooms in Vatican City as a service to the homeless. Monsignor Konrad Krajewski explained that the new facilities in St. Peter’s Square were inspired by an encounter with a homeless man. The homeless gentleman declined Krajewski’s invitation to a fancy dinner on his 50th birthday because he said that he smelled bad, and there was no place for homeless individuals like him to wash. According to some reports, the facility will also provide members of the homeless community with fresh towels and clean undergarments ... Discuss

A 31-year-old pastor in Florida has set a new Guinness World Record for the Longest Speech Marathon ever made by preaching a single sermon for 53 hours and 18 minutes. The epic message—which started in Genesis and ended in Revelation—was heard by hundreds of people, who showed up in groups of 10 throughout the two-and-a-half day sermon. Cross Mount Dora pastor Zach Zehnder told Fox News,

I went back to my basics and when I normally write a sermon I come up with a goal. So the goal I came up with was to announce God’s ridiculous commitment to his people, even when we give up, he doesn’t give up on us.”

The feat was also tied to a fundraiser that brought in more than $100,000 for the nonprofit Powerhouse Recovery which helps individuals fighting addiction ... Discuss

Just weeks after a group of Cardinals ended a contentious gathering to discuss the Catholic Church’s views on family issues like divorce, co-habitation and same-sex relationships, the Vatican will host another marriage-themed summit. Leaders from across the religious spectrum—including pastor Rick Warren, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission head Russell Moore, a senior leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, the Muslim president of the Tawasul Cultural Center in Egypt, World Sikh Council’s Manmohan Singh, Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright and about two dozen others—will meet for two days later this month at the “International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman.”

According to RNS, the idea is for the Vatican to “seek common ground with religious leaders” on the issues that have caused some division among Catholic officials. The meetings organizers say their goal is to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society” ... Discuss

After two weeks of meetings, Catholic bishops did not come to an agreement on a revised official stance on homosexuality. The church leaders also failed to come to a consensus on whether or not remarried Catholics—who had been divorced—could receive communion. The bishops were called to the historic synod by Pope Francis after new polls revealed that the Vatican’s views of family life were seen as dated. However, despite heated discussions that led some to believe that major shifts in how the church actively ministered in the LGBT community were coming, no significant new agreements were forged. Even a revised report on the meetings—which removed several statements from an earlier report that contained positive language concerning gays and lesbians—did not receive a two-thirds vote of support from the group of bishops.

The latest version of the report said that same-sex couples were not “"God's design of matrimony and the family," but cautioned, “Nonetheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.” It’s unclear how close the bishops are to revising their position on allowing remarried divorced church members to receive Holy Communion, as the report only said that they will continue to examine the issue. Following the synod, Pope Francis gave a speech, saying, “The Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.” The more than 200 bishops will meet again next fall to discuss similar issues ... Discuss

Andy Stanley’s North Point Ministries, just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, tops this list of the largest churches in America with more than 31,000 weekly attendees. Outreach Magazine compiled the rundown of the country’s biggest churches, each of which bring in more than 19,000 people every Sunday. Texas is home to two of the featured megachurches (Robert Morris’ Gateway Church and Ed Young Sr.’s Second Baptist Church). Unsurprisingly, most of the others are in the South’s Bible Belt ... Discuss

According to new research from Duke University’s Mark Chaves, several kinds of Christian worship experiences—including speaking in tongues—are on the rise among American churchgoers. As The Atlantic explains:

Since Chaves and his team started tracking these trends in 1998, the portion of congregations that see hand-waving during services has increased by 11 percentage points; spontaneous jumping, shouting, or singing has increased by 9 percentage points; and speaking in tongues has increased by 5 percentage points.

Commenting on his National Congregations Study, Chaves told the outlet that the current trend in American religion is for worship and church experiences that are “more emotionally engaging, not just intellectually engaging” ... Discuss