The dawn of a new calendar year may have begun, but there are few rays of sunshine on the diplomatic horizon, as pressure continues to mount on the Jewish state. In recent weeks, various South American countries have conferred recognition on an independent “Palestine,” in effect prejudging the outcome of any future negotiations.

The number of people proclaiming their faith worldwide is growing. This is clearly so in the Islamic world. Whereas Europe's birthrate is stagnant, the Arab population is set to double in the coming decades, and the population will rise in many Asian Muslim-majority countries.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke out Saturday against a recent wave of religious attacks against Christians and rallied worshippers not to "cave into depression and resignation," hours after a bomb explosion outside a church in Egypt killed 21 people.

Religious leaders across different faiths joined together with Open Doors, a ministry that serves persecuted Christians around the world, on Monday to call attention to the systematic "extermination" of Iraqi Christians.

It happens every first Sunday. A line snakes inside the lobby and spills outside the doors of the Doongsoong Presybeterian Church in Hyewah, Seoul. Expats and natives congregate for a curious cultural exchange as the Heritage Mass Choir prepares to spread the gospel with a foot-stomping, hands-waving-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care side-to-side swagger.

Freshly-published cables from the US mission to the Vatican have shed light on the inner workings of Europe's most secretive diplomatic corps, including the Pope's opposition to Turkey's EU membership, hopes for Polish influence inside the EU and church ideas on how to undermine the Castro administration in Cuba.

Pope Benedict XVI lamented that the Vatican acted "slowly and late" in a scandal surrounding the Legionaries of Christ, and a Vatican official called Tuesday for an investigation into who covered up for the conservative order's disgraced founder.