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The General Synod of the Church of England has just voted to allow female bishops for the first time in history. Women have been allowed to be priests since 1992, but a vote to allow them to become bishops was struck down in 2012. However, today's vote was a different story. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican leader, supported today's legislation. And clergy member Meg Gilley said: "I think we look ridiculous. God has been calling us on this road for a long time and we need to get on with it." The BBC is saying the Church could have female bishops by the end of the year ... Discuss

 

An interview with Pope Francis conducted by the founder of the Italian La Repubblica newspaper is making some serious waves. During a conversation with editor Eugenio Scalfari, the Pope reportedly said his advisors have told him that about 2 percent of Catholic Clergy are pedophiles, adding, "Among the 2% who are pedophiles are priests, bishops and cardinals. Others, more numerous, know but keep quiet. They punish without giving the reason. I find this state of affairs intolerable."

The Vatican, however, has taken issue with the article, noting that Scalfari doesn’t record interviews, and instead reconstructs them from memory afterward. Church officials say the three-page interview isn’t Pope Francis’ exact words and specifically disputes that he said that that cardinals were among the 2 percent of clergy that are pedophiles. Pope Francis was also quoted as saying that the crimes were “a leprosy in our house,” and vowed continued action against it. The headline for the piece read, "Pope says: Like Jesus, I shall use a stick against pedophile priests" ... Discuss

 

For the first time ever, victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priest were invited to the Vatican to meet with the pope. In addition to asking for forgiveness directly for the “sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you,” Pope Francis also acknowledged that the church leadership structure, which has been widely criticized for how they handled abuse cases, was also in the wrong. “I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made.” Though some have praised Pope Francis’ willingness to meet with victims, the outreach director of the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priest (SNAP), told The Daily Beast that if the Vatican does not punish the abusive priests and do more to prevent abuse (along with their list of demands), than they aren’t going far enough. “If it’s not preventing abuse, it’s probably meaningless or almost meaningless" ... Discuss

 

Lifeway Research has put together a sobering look at how often America's pastors address domestic abuse from the pulpit. While the research found that most Protestant pastors say they know victims of domestic abuse, they very rarely discuss it in sermons. When asked how often they preach on domestic violence, 42 percent of pastors answered "rarely/never" while less than a quarter speak about it once a year. When asked if they considered domestic violence to be a problem in their community, 72 percent answered "yes" and a full quarter said they believed it was a problem in their church.

Perhaps just as troubling is how ill-equipped pastors feel to address domestic violence. Slightly over half of senior pastors don't have training to address physical or sexual abuse, but 62 percent of pastors have attempted to counsel couples experiencing domestic abuse—a practice experts say can actually lead to more violence. Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research Division, said"When two-thirds of pastors address the issue of domestic violence in church one time a year or less, we have a serious disconnect with the realities of American life. Pastors cannot ignore or downplay the issue, when lives are being ruined—and sometimes lost—through sexual and domestic violence right in their own communities and churches" ... Discuss

 

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is estimating that as many as 10,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes in northern Iraq since ISIS' takeover of the region. Many of them are taking up refuge in schools, most of which have no air conditioning or showers. The UNHCR is partnering with local charities to provide food, water and hygiene kits, but in a region where temperatures often soar over 104 degrees F, resources are stretched thin. Many of the refugees are in dire need of medical attention.

These refugees join the some 1.2 million who have fled Iraq due to escalating violence. The UNHCR estimates that the cost of caring for them will be about $64.2 million. So far, they have raised about eight percent. You can help by donating here ... Discuss

 

While driving through a rural Italian village, Pope Francis shocked locals standing on the side of the road, by stopping his motorcade to meet a young disabled woman. The family of the woman—who was connected to a breathing machine on a stretcher—had placed signs near the highway, reading, “Please Pope stop here to see an angel who has been waiting for you. Please come and bless little Roberta." Pope Francis kissed the woman on the forehead, before shaking hands and greeting her friends and family who were their waiting with her. As the Catholic News Agency notes, a friend of Roberta’s, who witnessed the Pope’s interaction with the woman, posted on Facebook, “It was very emotional to see how Pope Francis greeted Roberta … there are gestures in life that are worth more than speeches, much more than you would think … Pope Francis is unique” ... Discuss