LUSAKA, ZAMBIA -- One Catholic who believes that the focus on condoms can only be one part of a larger strategy is Jesuit Fr. Michael J. Kelly, who, while not currently in Zambia, has worked here for years on the issue of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA -- In a week's time, it is possible to hear the church both criticized and praised for its response to Zambia's HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The critics include gay rights and AIDS activists who acknowledge that the church -- the wider church, both Catholic and Protestant -- should be praised for its health work in many areas but is a major obstacle to what they argue is a needed nonjudgmental and realistic conversation about the extent of male-to-male sexual contact, which is still taboo in Zambia.
Nearly all Muslims can agree on the basic beliefs of Islam: There is one God, Muhammad is God's prophet, and Muslims should fast during the holy month of Ramadan and give alms to the poor.
Yet beyond these central pillars of the faith, Muslims worldwide vastly differ as religious convictions are shaped by cultural and social contexts, according to a new report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The Roman Catholic Church has sent a letter to its parishes across Scotland protesting a political race to legalize same-sex marriage.
The letter was read Sunday by priests in 500 Catholic parishes urging Scotland's political leaders to "sustain rather than subvert marriage" and to reaffirm that "marriage is a unique, lifelong union between a man and a woman."
Scotland is caught up in a debate over whether it should become the first segment of Britain to legalize gay marriage, ahead of England and Wales.
After the letter was read out in churches Sunday, the Scottish government insisted it intends to legalize same-sex marriages and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships because "it is the right thing to do."
The issue is still in the consultation stage in England and Wales.
The letter from the Scottish Catholic leadership was part of its latest drive to keep marriage in the province on a traditional path. It called on congregations "to pray for our elected leaders ... that they may be moved to safeguard marriage as it has always been understood, for the good of Scotland and of our society."
In what may be among the most challenging voyages of his papacy, Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit Lebanon Sept. 14-16, against the backdrop of a bloody insurrection in neighboring Syria and deep tensions in Muslim/Christian relations in various parts of the world.
KOLOMYYA, Ukraine -- The major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said he hopes to follow up a Polish-Russian joint message by pursuing a similar reconciliation process with Russian Orthodox leaders.
"We should also take such a path of reconciliation -- without this, it will be impossible to stop Russification in Ukraine and Ukrainophobia in Russia," said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.
"If we somehow try to settle painful questions of the past as Christians in light of the Gospel and to heal our memory solely by means of reconciliation, then we can build something constructive," he said at a mid-August news conference in Kolomyya.
On Aug. 17, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the president of the Polish Catholic bishops' conference signed a joint message urging Poles and Russians to set aside centuries of anger and prejudice and work together to maintain their countries' Christian identities.
VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, the retired bishop of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, died Wednesday at the age of 88, the Vatican newspaper reported.
He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, about eight months after retiring.
MANCHESTER, England -- Tony Nicklinson, a man paralyzed from the neck down following a stroke seven years ago, wept before television cameras after he was told that he had lost a two-year legal battle to change the law on euthanasia.
Three High Court judges rejected the claim brought by Nicklinson, 58, and another stroke victim named only as Martin, 47, that doctors should be able to end the men's lives at a time of their choosing under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees a right to private and family life.
But the judges said in their Aug. 16 ruling that Nicklinson wanted "to be able to choose to end his life by voluntary euthanasia," and such a change would have consequences far beyond the two cases.
"It is not for the court to decide whether the law about assisted suicide dying should be changed," the judges said. "Under our system of government these are matters for Parliament to decide, representing society as a whole, after parliamentary scrutiny, and not for the court on the facts of an individual case or cases."
VATICAN CITY -- The president of the Nigerian bishops' conference called for the international community to help his country improve its security operations to stop the "fundamentalist, fanatic" Boko Haram terrorist group.
The day after a Catholic church, an elementary school and a police station in Damagun were attacked, presumably by Boko Haram members, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos told Vatican Radio: "There is high religious tension in Nigeria, but we are not at war between Christians and Muslims. The Boko Haram is at war with Christians, because they have vowed they will kill Christians because they are 'infidels.' This is a fact, but it is not the whole Islamic community."
In its two-year campaign to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the entire country, Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,400 deaths of Christians, Muslims and police officers.
BEIRUT -- Lebanon's younger generation of Catholics sees Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 14-16 visit to their country as a sign of hope in a region embroiled with violence.