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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 23, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 23, 2009

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

  • Church Groups Blast Failure of Copenhagen Summit
  • Israel: First Jesus-Era House Found in Nazareth
  • Spiritual Aid Helps Wellbeing of Terminally Ill, Study Says
  • House OKs Tougher Sanctions for Aid to Iran

Church Groups Blast Failure of Copenhagen Summit

Religion News Service reports that some faith groups have expressed disappointment over the outcome of Copenhagen climate conference, pledging to continue to press for climate justice. "With a lack of transparency, the agreement reached this past week by some countries was negotiated without consensus but rather in secret among the powerful nations of the world," the World Council of Churches' program executive on climate change, Guillermo Kerber, stated. Caritas Internationalis, an international consortium of Roman Catholic relief agencies, and CIDSE, an alliance of Catholic development agencies, denounced the Copenhagen accord as "a weak and morally reprehensible deal which will spell disaster for millions of the world's poorest people." A delegation that included Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other ecumenical leaders preached and marched during the 11-day meeting.

Israel: First Jesus-Era House Found in Nazareth

The Associated Press reports that archeologists have unearthed what they believe is a dwelling from Jesus' time in Nazareth. On Dec. 21, archeologists said they had found the remains of a wall, a hideout from Roman invaders, a courtyard and a water system that date back to the turn of the first millennium. Archaeologist Yardena Alexdre said the house was one of about 50 in Nazareth at the time. "This may well have been a place that Jesus and his contemporaries were familiar with," Alexandre said. A young Jesus may have played around the house with his cousins and friends, she said. "It's a logical suggestion." Father Jack Karam of the nearby Basilica of the Annunciation welcomes the discovery as further evidence of a true story. "They say if the people do not speak, the stones will speak," he said, smiling.

Spiritual Aid Helps Wellbeing of Terminally Ill, Study Says

Christian Today reports that terminally ill patients may face death more peacefully if they have a spiritual support team around them, according to a soon-to-be-published study. Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found these patients were also more likely to reject aggressive medical intervention. "Our findings suggest that spiritual care from the medical system has important ramifications for patients at the end of life, including helping them transition to comfort-focused care and improving their wellbeing near death," commented the study's senior author, Dr. Tracy Balboni of Dana-Farber. "Furthermore, they highlight the need to educate medical caregivers in being attentive to the frequent role of religion and spirituality in patients' coping with advanced illness and importance of integrating pastoral care into multidisciplinary medical teams."

House OKs Tougher Sanctions for Aid to Iran

Baptist Press reports that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved stronger sanctions on oil-related imports to Iran. "This is a very important step in the right direction in doing all that we can to avert a war," said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "If we do not dissuade the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons, I am fearful that the Israelis will use the only tool at their disposal, which is their Air Force. And that will bring about a war, and no one except perhaps [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad wants that." The bill calls for the imposition of sanctions on anyone who knowingly enables Iran to continue or increase its domestic oil production or who aids in the importation of oil products to the southwest Asian country.