Time magazine named Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, crediting him with shifting the message of the Catholic Church while capturing the "imaginations of millions" who had become disillusioned with the Vatican. "So much of what he has done in his brief nine months in office has really changed the tone of what is coming out of the Vatican," Time Editor Nancy Gibbs said in announcing the choice on NBC television's "Today" program. "He is saying, 'We are about the healing mission of the church, and not about the theological police work'." The Pope beat out former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and gay rights activist Edith Windsor for the award. "What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all," Time said on its website.
A US foundation has revealed it was the mystery buyer of sacred Native American objects auctioned off Monday in Paris under a cloud of controversy, and will return them to the tribes that claim them. The Annenberg Foundation announced it had bought 21 Hopi masks -- which are worn by dancers during religious ceremonies and considered as living beings -- and three San Carlos Apache objects for $530,000 (390,000 euros) "for the sole purpose of returning them to their rightful owner." Monday's auction had gone ahead despite several attempts to block the sale of the colourful masks and head-dresses, including by the US embassy. Advocacy group Survival International had also challenged the auction in court on behalf of the Hopi tribe, but was dismissed on Friday by a judge who ruled the sale was legal in France.
India's Supreme Court Wednesday reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex that enables the jailing of homosexuals in a major setback for rights campaigners in the world's biggest democracy. A two-judge bench struck down a landmark Delhi High Court ruling in 2009 which found that section 377 of the Indian penal code prohibiting "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" infringed the fundamental rights of Indians. The decision four years ago to decriminalise gay sex emboldened the still largely closeted homosexual community which has since campaigned publicly against widespread discrimination and ignorance. But the Supreme Court bench, headed by G.S. Singhvi on his last day before retirement, found the High Court had overstepped its authority and that a law passed by the British in 1860 was still constitutionally valid.