Candlelit vigils, costume parades, a White House egg roll, and Seder feasts are just a few of the many religious and traditional celebrations that took place in honor of Passover and Easter. World leaders like Queen Elizabeth II and President Barack Obama (even Kid President!) were involved in festivities, and the holiday was especially important to Pope Francis, who led Easter services for the very first time as Pope. See this year's colorful, sacred, and egg-filled Spring holiday celebrations around the world now!
While rainbows waved in Washington DC at the start of the gay marriage Supreme Court hearings this week, rainbows of a different sort have been streaking across India, Pakistan, Singapore, and other countries to mark the Holi, the festival of colors. The Hindu tradition celebrates the end of Winter and start of Spring with devotees throwing bright multicolored powder, known as gulal, at each other. Similar to Mardi Gras, social restrictions are loosened during the holiday, meaning Hindus from all classes and both sexes join in the events together. Holi day takes place on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna, which this year was March 27. Click through to find out more about the tradition and see pictures of this year's vibrant Holi celebrations!
The Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, is now the pope. The new leader of the Catholic Church represents a lot of firsts. He is the first pope to take the name Francis, the first non-European pope in modern time, and the first pope from Latin America. He is also the first Jesuit pope. Born in Argentina, his father was an Italian immigrant, and he joined the Jesuit order when he was 21 and became a priest at 32. Pope Francis is known for his humility and began his first papal address by asking the crowd to pray to God so that God would bless him. In Buenos Aires, he takes the bus, and when he became a cardinal, he encouraged his Argentinean supporters to donate their money to the poor, rather than travel to Rome to celebrate. He also decided to live in a small apartment, rather than the grander residence of the archbishop.
As for his record, he has no connection to the sex abuse scandal. He opposed Argentina's decision to legalize gay marriage, but on contraception, he has signaled support for its use to prevent disease. He has been very outspoken against poverty and inequality.
The news was announced Wednesday evening after white smoke came out of the Sistine Chapel. The newly elected pope is the 266th successor to St. Peter. According to tradition, he received at least two-thirds of the votes, or the support of 77 cardinals. It took five rounds of voting, one more than it took when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. At the Vatican, thousands of people have gathered as church bells ring in celebration.
After a national study found that one in five Americans reports having no religious affiliation, sociologists at UC Berkeley decided to offer up some explanations. Mike Hout and Claude Fischer analyzed the data and found that across a nationally representative sample, 20 percent of Americans state they identify with no organized religion, compared to eight percent in 1990. And they discovered differences among demographics.
Forty percent of liberals are not tied to a religion, compared to nine percent of conservatives; men (24 percent) are more likely than women (16 percent) to cite no religion; and over 30 percent of Americans 18-24 say they're not part of organized religion, compared to only seven percent of people over 75. And it's important to note that "no religion" is different than identifying as an "atheist." In fact, only three percent of Americans identify as atheist.
For those who do cite a religious affiliation, 30 percent say they belong to a conservative Protestant denomination, and 1.5 percent of Americans are Jewish. And while Catholic cardinals just chose a new pope, fewer Americans will be invested in the outcome; 35 percent of those surveyed said they were raised Catholic, but only 25 percent identify as Catholic today.
Tell us below if you feel the pull away from organized religion.
Pope Benedict XVI rode on his helicopter into the sunset this evening, on his final day as head of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict will officially step down at 8 p.m. Rome time, but he already headed for the papal Summer residence, where he will stay until his Vatican apartment is ready. Before leaving, the pope addressed the church's cardinals, saying, "Among you is the future pope, to whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience." After his resignation, Benedict will continue to wear white and will be addressed as "his holiness" and "pope emeritus."
Cardinals will begin meeting soon to choose the successor. They're likely looking for someone with a good stage presence, who can inspire the public, handle the media, and keep a good grip on the Church's inner workings. The hope is also that the new leader will not have a shady connection to the child sex abuse scandal. Controversy has surrounded the church leadership up until Benedict's final days. Italian newspaper La Repubblica recently reported about a "gay lobby" within the Vatican and alleged a series of scandals involving sex and money sparked Benedict's decision to resign. The Vatican denied the story as deplorable gossip.
Pope Benedict XVI's legacy will begin to be shaped while he's still alive. After causing an uproar for saying condoms don't help HIV prevention during a trip to Africa, for example, he changed course and said contraception is a "first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality." Some hope the pope's successor will be more open-minded about social issues like gay marriage and sexuality. But since the cardinals who will choose him were all appointed by the very conservative Pope Benedict XVI or John Paul II, the next pope will likely share their conservative doctrine. Until we know who the next leader will be, take a look at Pope Benedict XVI's final day in Rome.
The Vatican announced today that Pope Benedict XVI will resign, making him the first pope to do so in six centuries. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became pope in 2005, and he will step down at 8:00 p.m. Rome time on Feb. 28 due to advanced age. The pope is 85. Over the past eight years, he has led the Church's staunch stance against gay marriage, but he has also showed some modernization on the issue of condoms, especially in Africa. As the leader of the Catholic Church, he has the power to influence the actions and attitudes of millions around the world. Before we find out who will inherit the papal Twitter account, let's look back at Pope Benedict's XVI's legacy on issues of sexuality.
On Condoms and AIDs
The pope created an uproar among public health workers and many everyday Catholics during a 2009 trip to Africa when he declared HIV/AIDs "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms." But Pope Benedict XVI changed his position in 2010, saying condoms can be used to stop the spread of the deadly disease. While obvious, the statement also marked a landmark break from the Church's blanket ban on contraception. In fact, the pope said in some cases, contraception is "a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality."
When it comes to marriage, sexuality, and gender, the pope's legacy is not one of modernization. He encouraged Catholics to oppose "unnatural" gay marriage and adoption, and after Maryland legalized gay marriage in 2012, for example, the pope condemned it in a speech to Catholic US bishops, saying, "Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature." He also addressed the issue in December of 2012, saying there is "a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union."
The pope also actively spoke out against cohabitation, telling church leaders not to ignore the "serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation."
In a 2005 address in Rome, the pope criticized contraception and abortion, saying, "How contrary it is to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman, to systematically close their union to the gift of life, and even worse to suppress or tamper with the life that is born." On the issue of abortion, however, it also made news when the Vatican encouraged priests to forgive the sin of abortion specifically at confession held during the pope's visit to Spain for World Youth Day in 2011.
You can watch the Vatican news conference below, during which the spokesman says the pope took everyone by surprise.
We're happy to share a new post from ediTORIal by Tori Spelling, Tori's daily blog about everything from food and fashion to parenting and relationships. This week, Tori asks for advice on how to talk religion with kids
One of the things I love best about ediTORIal is the community we've built here on the site. I really enjoying reading all of your thoughts and comments — I have such hilarious and stylish readers! So, I decided to make a new blog series titled Momvo (mom convo) so we can all share stories and thoughts about hot mommy topics. Hope you enjoy my first Momvo post!
This morning I walked into the kids' room and I heard Liam and Stella talking to each other. Liam said to Stella "you're a Jewish" and Stella said, "No Liam, you're a Jewish." I walked in and said "technically you are both Jewish."
They both asked why and I said, "because I'm Jewish," to which Stella replied, "you're not Jewish, you are just a mom." I then asked them, without having a completely proper answer prepared, if they knew what being Jewish meant. They both said no.
At what age is it appropriate to start talking to your kids about religion and heritage? And what if you and your husband have different religious backgrounds? I know we weren't prepared to have this conversation yet and still completely aren't. Luckily for the time being they were distracted when they heard Dean call "breakfast is ready" from the kitchen.
Leave me your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!
Hi, I'm a 22-year-old girl from a strict Sikh family, where all my four sisters have had arranged marriages. I have been dating a guy from a Hindu family for four years. His family really likes me and we want to get married next year, but due to my parents we are afraid of the consequences.
My one sister is divorced, and yet my dad is very against love, and if he finds out that I love someone who is not in my cast there is going to be drama. My sister who is divorced also wanted to get married to someone she liked, but my dad apparently got "sick," and she was forced to marry someone who left her in six weeks. I really want to make my family believe that love marriage isn't a bad thing, and the person I love is financially stable and a good person. They even know him and his family, but they don't know about us. Can I please get help on how can make my family accept him.
Here's the catch. You have to get to Madrid by the end of the week. The pope will arrive in Madrid tomorrow for World Youth Day, and as part of his visit, any woman who confesses her abortion during the event will be forgiven and welcomed back to the Church.
"Special powers" have been given to all priests in Madrid, which they can use to absolve women who confess abortions. A Vatican spokesman explains, "Normally, only certain priests have the power to lift such an excommunication, but the local diocese has decided to give all the priests taking confession at the event this power." To accommodate all sinners, portable confession booths, pictured above, have been set up in the city's Buen Retiro Park.
The Church denies that it's trying attract new members with its more lenient approach to abortion, but the plan does seem a little bit like a gimmicky and arbitrary "get-out-of-hell-free" card. And any Catholic woman who can't make it to Madrid to confess an abortion won't receive the benefit. Even so, do you think it's a sign the Catholic Church is more welcoming of its female members? Or is it just another example of a male-dominated institution trying to control a woman's body and choices?
New research from the Guttmacher Institute may debunk the idea that religion and sex don't mix. Using data gathered from a 2006-2008 survey of more than 7,000 US women ages 15-44, this report found that women of a variety of religions — Protestant, Catholic, and Buddhism included — are having sex and using contraception.
These findings are released in the midst of the Planned Parenthood funding debate and help the organization's cause as they show that women from all backgrounds depend on birth control. Maybe even a religious version of the "I have sex" video is in the works? See five of the surprising stats on religious women and their sex lives:
- Despite the Catholic church being against contraception, only two percent of devout Catholic women rely on natural family planning.
- The number of never-married 15- to 19-year-olds who have had sex is 42 percent, with similar numbers across all denominations.
- Ninety-nine percent of all sexually active religious women have used contraception other than natural family planning.
- More Evangelical than Catholic or Protestant virgins give religious or moral reasons for abstaining from sex, 63 percent vs. 31 and 36, respectively.
- Sixty-nine percent of sexually experienced women of all denominations are using "highly effective methods" including sterilization, a hormonal method like the pill, or IUD.
What has been your experience with religious beliefs and sexuality?