Myanmar military releases Buddhist nationalist monk Wirathu from prison

A nationalist Buddhist monk in Myan­mar notorious for anti-Muslim remarks was freed from prison on September 6 after charges that he tried to stir up disaffection against the country’s previous civilian government were dropped.

The monk, Wirathu, became prominent in 2012 after deadly riots broke out between Buddhists and ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine. He founded a nationalist group accused of inciting violence against Muslims.

Stefan Wyszyński and Elżbieta Róża Czacka beatified in Poland

Two revered figures of the Polish Catholic Church were beatified on September 12—a cardinal who led the Polish church’s re­sistance to communism and a blind nun who devoted her life to helping others who couldn’t see.

In a time of growing secularization and societal divisions, the celebration of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and Mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka was a reminder of the moral authority and the unifying power the church once held over Poland.

Dillard University professor Mona Lisa Saloy named poet laureate in Louisiana

Mona Lisa Saloy, an English professor at the historically Black, United Methodist and United Church of Christ affiliated Dillard University, has been named poet laureate for the state of Louisiana.

Saloy, whose poetry is about contemporary Creole culture in New Orleans, is also a folklorist who studies the importance

of play through sidewalk songs, jump rope rhymes, and hand-clapping games. Her work has been published in academic and literary journals, including Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, Afri­can American Review, and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal.

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Influential Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong dies at 90

John Shelby Spong, an Episcopal bishop and a best-selling author known for his progressive theology and his support of LGBTQ clergy, has died. He was 90.

Spong made headlines as bishop of the Diocese of Newark, where he served for more than two dec­ades and in 1989 or­dained the first openly gay male priest in the Episcopal Church. He also championed female clergy, requiring churches in his diocese to include at least one female candidate in each search process.

Twenty years later, ‘In Christ Alone’ still inspires millions to sing

The melody that changed Keith Getty’s life was first scratched out on the back of an electric bill in a humble flat in Northern Ireland.

This isn’t great, he thought at the time.

But it was the best he could come up with. So he sent a recording of the melody on a CD to Stuart Townend, an English songwriter he’d met a few months earlier at a church conference, in hopes Townend might be able to turn the melody into a serviceable hymn.

Vatican won’t say if women can vote in 2023 church meeting

Vatican officials declined to say if women would be able to vote on concrete proposals about the future of the Catholic Church at the end of a two-year consultation of laypeople that begins in October.

For years female activists, including women religious, have pressed to be able to vote at Synod of Bishops meetings, which bring together the Catholic hierarchy in Rome to discuss pressing issues facing the 1.3-billion-strong church.

Afghanistan’s last Jew leaves after Taliban takeover

The last member of Afghanistan’s Jewish community has left the country.

Zebulon Simentov—who lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul, kept kosher, and prayed in Hebrew—endured decades of war as the country’s

centuries-old Jewish community rapidly dwindled. But the Taliban takeover in August seems to have been the last straw.

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Police clash with opponents of Serbian church in Montenegro

Metropolitan Joanikije, the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, was inaugurated in the state’s old capital on September 5 amid clashes between police and protesters who oppose continued Serb influence in the tiny Balkan nation.

Hospital officials in the city of Cetinje said at least 60 people were injured—including 30 police officers—in clashes that saw police launch tear gas against the demonstrators, who hurled rocks and bottles at them and fired gunshots into the air. At least 15 people were arrested.

New Bible translation for Native American readers 

It’s a Bible verse familiar to many Christians—and even to many non-Christians, who have seen it on billboards and T-shirts or scrawled across eye black under football players’ helmets.

But Terry Wildman hopes the new translation published on August 31 by InterVarsity Press, First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament, will help Christians and Indigenous people read John 3:16 again in a fresh way.

Nadia Bolz-Weber installed as ELCA's first pastor of public witness

Nadia Bolz-Weber was installed on August 20 as the first pastor of public witness in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She was called to the role of pastor of public witness by the ELCA’s Rocky Mountain Synod.

Bolz-Weber, who has often attracted controversy, is perhaps best known for her New York Times best-selling books, including Shameless: A Sexual Reforma­tion and Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, the prayer- and profanity-filled memoir of her journey from alcoholic stand-up comic to Lutheran pastor.

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