NCR Today: Catholic judge in Illinois presides over same-sex marriages; Syrian crisis splits activists, religious groups over aid; reports of possible mass graves in Ireland.
A group of Christian youth activists is looking to the future and hoping to mobilize young people to better advocate for themselves.
The global persecution of Christians has gone from bad to worse, said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith at a congressional hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
Smith, a New Jersey Republican, along with other U.S. House subcommittee members and various speakers gave testimony about religious hostilities against Christians worldwide. Speakers noted that religious persecution violates basic human rights.
Smith likened the persecution of Christians in Iraq to genocide.
"Christians remain the most persecuted group in the world and thus deserve special attention," he said.
From a pair of popes to gay marriage to terrorism, Rudin summarizes what he thinks are the top 10 religion stories from 2013.
The snowstorms and torrential rain that battered the Middle East in mid-December threatened to make this Christmas season an especially difficult one for Christians in Gaza.
Matthew McGarry, Catholic Relief Services' country representative, described the situation as "quite bad."
"There is extensive damage to infrastructure, and we haven't been able to get our staff in until today," McGarry told Catholic News Service on Tuesday. "We are targeting the most vulnerable families."
Many schools remained closed because of structural damage, he added.
Officials at Egypt's Al-Azhar University said they are eagerly awaiting a message from the Vatican that could jump-start their stalled talks.
Their dialogue faltered and was eventually suspended altogether by Al-Azhar in 2011 after a series of remarks made by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.
Mahmoud Azab, adviser on dialogue to Al-Azhar's grand imam, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, told Catholic News Service that Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for Egypt's Catholic church, informed them a Vatican envoy would visit Dec. 3.