12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 15, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 15, 2008

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Vatican Updates Code on Birth Technologies
  • Breakaway Anglicans Begin Official Transition
  • Faith a "Private Eccentricity" in England, Says Catholic Cleric
  • New Statement May Eliminate China House Churches

Vatican Updates Code on Birth Technologies

Catholic News Service reports that the Roman Catholic Church has updated its official stance on many modern reproductive technologies in a new document released Friday. "Dignitas Personae," or "Human Dignity," addresses recent development in stem-cell research, gene therapy and embryonic experimentation, evaluating which are acceptable and which "reflect an attempt by man 'to take the place of his Creator.'" This is the first authoritative document on biomedical reproductive technologies the pope has signed since 1987. "Back then we didn't have 500,000 frozen embryos. No one was talking about embryonic stem cell research or pre-implantation embryonic diagnosis," John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, told USA Today.

Breakaway Anglicans Begin Official Transition

The Christian Post reports that signing members of the new breakaway Anglican province took the first steps of transition into the new body Tuesday. The annual council meeting of the Anglican Communion Network voted to begin turning over financial and administrative support to the new province. "God did not use the Network to change the direction of The Episcopal Church as we had originally hoped," said Bishop Robert Duncan, who leads the network and is expected to lead the new North American province. "He has used it and us to create a Biblical, missionary and united Anglican province-in-waiting here in North America. We are deeply thankful to Him and to all who have supported its work." The Anglican Communion Network will disband when the transition, which will take about six months, is complete.

Faith a "Private Eccentricity" in England, Says Catholic Cleric

Religion News Service reports that the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales warns that liberalism has turned Britain into a nation where religious belief is seen as a "private eccentricity" and atheism is becoming increasingly more "vocal and aggressive." Writing in a book released this week, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor came down hard on what he said was Britain's growing degeneration into a land free of morals and hostile to Christian values. The book, called "Faith in the Nation," was published by the Institute for Public Policy Research and counts among its supporters Prime Minister Gordon Brown, himself the son of a hard-line Church of Scotland minister. Murphy-O'Connor cites "serious tensions" between Christians and secularists in his book. The result, he said, has become an "unfriendly climate for people of all faiths" that has, as a result, united Britain's three major faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

New Statement May Eliminate China House Churches

Baptist Press reports that China's ministry of civil affairs has issued a statement calling for the elimination of the Chinese House Church Alliance, a move some say "could well cause the abolishment of all the Christian house churches" in the communist country. The alliance, led by Pastor "Bike" Zhang Mingxuan, was established in 2005 and has been engaging in Christian missionary work and charity activities, according to the U.S-based China Aid Association Dec. 9. News of the crackdown follows harsh rhetoric by Zhou Yongkang, the leader of the Central Political and Legislative Committee within the Communist Party, who in recent months called for "extraordinary measures to be taken against house churches." News reports did not indicate whether the two occurrences were directly linked.