Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

How to build a better world: Jean Vanier on love, humility and the path to peace

What kind of a world would it be if the stories and ideas that captured our attention reflected our common humanity? It might be a world where we can envision ourselves as sisters and brothers in a large human family, says Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, an international network of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live together. Today, at 86, as he joins the pantheon of Templeton Prize winners that includes individuals such as the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, Vanier sees a world teetering between love and fear, where the culture erects walls of distrust that lead people to fear those who are different.

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Latin American perspective on Papa Francisco reveals genuine leader dedicated to change

BUENOS AIRES — The election of Pope Francis is raising spirits and hopes throughout the Catholic Church. But what has been the impact on the ground, and what are the prospects of a makeover for a church that often measures changes in terms of centuries rather than days and months? Many of the people who know Pope Francis best, leading Latin American journalists, scholars and religious leaders, say the genuine faith of the Argentinian pope is making a difference with people in the streets and in the pews. Convincing Catholics in high places, however, may be his greatest challenge.

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Why faith matters in battling global smoking epidemic

In addition to legal and social activism, there is another potential powerful tool in addressing a global smoking epidemic: Faith. New studies are adding to a growing body of evidence that religion may help deter smoking, particularly among marginalized groups that have the greatest health risks.

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Faith without work: Studies find religion key resource for unemployed, underemployed

Religion can help lower depression, maintain optimism, provide social support and offer other benefits to people around the world left behind amid the shifting demands of the global economy, new research finds.

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Catholic churches most likely to be on the front lines of issues from abortion to poverty

The nation’s largest religious body is also by far the most likely to have its congregations take to the streets in public demonstrations or lobby the halls of power on moral issues, a new study finds. While Catholics were most active on the abortion issue, they also were more likely than other groups to lobby and demonstrate on a wide range of issues, from combating poverty to advocating for immigration reform.

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Leaning inward: Mothers at the margins find hope, support in faith

Research lifting up the experiences of mothers facing hardships, whether in a homeless shelter in the Southwest, or in a maximum-security prison in the Midwest, or ostracized with AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, suggests many women rely on religion and spirituality for a pathway beyond despair to having a sense of hope for the future. Their stories reveal a powerful faith that provides a vision of a better life for them and their children.

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Studies: Religion linked to fewer violent crimes; being ‘spiritual but not religious’ tied to increased risk

Can religion help reduce violent crime? Two new studies suggest the answer is yes, both by creating a moral climate that fosters respect among neighbors and by helping to form individual consciences of young adults. Communities with high levels of active participation in congregations may be particularly effective in reducing assaults, rapes and murders in some poor areas that are most likely to suffer from violent crimes, the research indicates.

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The next pope, Pentecostalism and the Global South

More than half of the world’s Catholics reside in the Global South, and many Catholics are hopeful the next pope will be from Latin America or Africa. This, some observers say, would not only be a significant affirmation of the global nature of the church, but could help stem defections to Pentecostal congregations in those regions. But what may matter more than the nationality of the next pope, according to some scholars, is his commitment to allowing the growth of lay leadership and culturally sensitive worship that is at the heart of the success of the Pentecostal movement. “A new pope would do well to officially sanction some of this, rather than resist it,” one scholar says.

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Key to benevolence: Experiencing divine love may be gift that keeps on giving

Spending quality time with God appears to make benevolent love possible for many Americans, new research indicates. Americans may be biologically hard-wired to worship at the altars of consumerism this holiday season, buying gifts with expectations of what they will receive in return, but those people who say they regularly experience divine love are much more likely to reach out beyond family and friends to serve humanity, according to a national study.

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Amid violent protests and provocative films, religion journalists create global path to understanding

The recent upheaval associated with the release of a crude, anti-Islamic film shows how issues relating to faith can cross borders with startling speed and consequences. Now is the time for the type of knowledgeable, on-the-ground reporting that provides careful international perspective regarding the complex motives behind these events. Yet too often, limited by cultural biases, this broader understanding gets lost at home and abroad amid advocacy journalism and pack reporting that reinforce popular misconceptions or fears of religious minorities and religion in public life. But here is the great news. Change is coming with the new International Association of Religion Journalists.

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