This week showcased the best and worst of religion.. but we'll let you decide which stories are which.
The Vatican held its first conference on sexual abuse, "Towards Healing and Renewal." Clergy from around the world, and a handful of victims of sexual abuse attended the conference. In related news, retired Cardinal Egan regretted apologizing for how sexual abuse cases were handled while he was Bishop of Bridgeport in 2002. He claimed that he was not obligated to report abuse claims, and said, "I don't think we did anything wrong," the AP reports. Meanwhile, Obama's revised birth control policy has received support from a key Catholic group, the Catholic Health Organization. According to the new policy, religious employers will not be obligated to provide contraception coverage to their employees; instead the insurance companies will be directly responsible for providing free contraception, the AP reports.
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On the flip side, the Department of Education recently determined that employees whose work is related to "religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing" will not qualify for loan forgiveness as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. Clergy members across the country have launched an informal campaign to qualify for student loan forgiveness.
The Air Force removed the word 'God' from the logo of an Air Force acquisitions office, after objections by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. Many members of Congress are upset at this move; 36 of them signed a letter to the Air Force objecting.
Fr. Greg Boyle, Jesuit priest and founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries offered HuffPost Religion "Two Minutes of Wisdom" talking about his work and the motivation behind it. Check it out! His work inspired HufffPost Religion to launch Faith Inspires a weekly feature that will highlight people of faith who are creating an impact in society in this country and around the world. On that note, if you want to highlight the work of a religious or spiritual group, please email us at religion[at]huffingtonpost[dot]com or tweet us @HuffPostRelig with #FaithInspires.
Oprah Winfrey visited Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn to learn about their daily life and spiritual devotion. In a conversation with Rabbi Moti Seligson, she surprised us (and herself?) by saying, "I am more Hasidic Jew than I thought."
Meanwhile, Tamil Hindus celebrated the festival of Thaipusam. Unique to this celebration, devotees undergo extreme bodily mortification once their prayers are answered. HuffPost Religion has a gallery of striking photos -- check them out!
Noted singer Whitney Houston died on 11th of Feb. She was 48 years old. The night before she died, she sang, "Yes, Jesus Loves Me." Rest in peace, Whitney.
Finally, HuffPost Religion created a four-round bracket challenge to determine YOUR favorite Jesus movie. We are now in the second round of the challenge and you have until the 13th of Feb. 9 a.m. to ensure that your favorite Jesus movie make it to the penultimate round.
Feb. 6 marked the beginning of "Towards Healing And Renewal," a four-day Vatican global summit on sexual abuse. The purpose of the summit is aimed at preventing abuse and protecting children. This is an unprecedented gathering in the Catholic Church, bringing together hundreds of clergy as well as sexual abuse victims. While some have dismissed it as a public relations stunt, Marie Collins, one of the few sexual abuse victims to attend this conference says that it is an extremely important event. She said, "There must be acknowledgement and accountability for the harm and destruction that has been done."
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan is facing criticism from representatives of clergy sexual abuse victims for a recent interview in which he said he regretted apologizing for the priest abuse scandal in 2002 when he was bishop of Bridgeport. To continue reading, click here.
WASHINGTON -- The White House has support from a key Catholic health group on its compromise birth control policy. Sister Carol Keehan heads the Catholic Health Organization. She says the compromise "has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed." To continue reading the story, click here.
"As an employee of a registered nonprofit, Matthew (who declined to give his last name for this article) also had something else in mind: a relatively new federal law that offers loan forgiveness to nonprofit employees and others who work in "public service." Part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, the law specified that as long as students took public service jobs at nonprofits and made on-time loan payments for 10 years, their remaining debt would be wiped out. Matthew calculated that for him this would work out to his paying $450 a month for a decade. Over the four years since the law passed, seminaries across the country have conducted financial aid seminars explaining and publicizing this loan forgiveness program. But last week, the Department of Education released guidelines outlining exactly who qualifies for loan forgiveness. It turns out that employees whose work is related to "religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing" don't fit the bill." To continue reading, click here.
(RNS) Dozens of members of Congress are upset that the Air Force has removed the Latin word for "God" from the logo of an Air Force acquisitions office. Led by Rep. J. Randy Forbes, co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, 36 lawmakers Monday (Feb. 6) sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz objecting to the removal of "God" from the logo of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO). To continue reading, click here.
Father Greg Boyle is a Jesuit Priest and the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that works with former gang members to help transform their lives, create positive communities and "find the person they are really meant to be." To watch the video, click here.
"Oprah visited to the Hasidic Jewish communities of Borough Park and Crown Heights for unprecedented access inside one of America's most tight-knit and mysterious cultures, where she learns about the daily life and their intense spiritual devotion, including raising their children with no TV, movies, Internet or video games." To continue reading and watch the video, click here.
SINGAPORE - FEBRUARY 07: A devotee has his tongue and cheeks pierced before taking part in the Thaipusam procession at Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on February 7, 2012 in Singapore. Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai. Devotees pray and make vows, when the prayers are answered they fulfill the vows by piercing parts of their body such as their cheeks, tongues, and backs before carrying a 'Kavadi' along a four kilometre route. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) To check out more photos, click here.
Whitney Houston was confirmed dead on 11th Feb. She died at the age of 48. Causes of her death are as yet unknown. The night before she died, she sang, "Yes, Jesus Loves Me." To listen to more of her faith-inspired songs, click here.
This week began HuffPost Religion's Best Jesus Movie bracket challenge. We are now in round two and eight movies are contesting for the title of 'Best Jesus Movie." Click here to vote.