By the CNN Belief Blog Editors
(CNN) - The Vatican said Wednesday it has suspended a German bishop who has come under fire for his extravagant lifestyle.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst is under investigation for his spending after his residence in Limburg, Germany, was renovated for $42 million.
The Vatican says Tebartz-Van Elst cannot carry out his ministry as long as the investigation in ongoing, and he's been ordered to stay outside his diocese.
Coined the "Bling Bishop," Tebartz-Van Elst, who is known as theologically conservative, has denied any wrongdoing, saying the cost overruns on the renovation are legitimate because surrounding structures had to be protected, including the old city wall.
By Ben Brumfield and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
(CNN) - Twitter will withhold content from a neo-Nazi account at the request of German authorities, the first time it has put into action a policy of local censorship it adopted in January and a step that will probably reignite debate over freedom of expression on the Internet.
Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general counsel, tweeted the company's decision Thursday: "We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We're using it now for the first time re: a group deemed illegal in Germany."
But although Twitter, hailed by many as a powerful enabler of free speech, is taking its first step toward limiting hate speech, some groups say it still has a long way to go.
The Anti-Defamation League has said it "lags far behind" other social media networks in setting clear standards over racism.
A barrage of anti-Semitic abuse prompted by a series of hashtags in France has highlighted the problem there in recent weeks, with the French Union of Jewish Students adding its voice to the concerns raised by the ADL.
Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and author of the book "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era."
By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN
(CNN)–According to recent reports, a German court's ban on circumcising baby boys has provoked a rare show of unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians who see it as a threat to religious freedom, while doctors warn it could increase health risks by forcing the practice underground. This recent ruling has global media commentators on all sides of the political aisle debating whether this issue is an affront to religious freedom or a victory to protect the foreskins of young male babies around the world.
Several prominent writers, including Michael Gerson of the Washington Post, rightfully challenged this recent legal decision by a local German court in Cologne, which would effectively criminalize ritual circumcision for infant males as an exercise of religious freedom for minority religious communities in the country.
Gerson and others have been highlighting this most recent issue vis-à-vis Europe’s infamous history of anti-Semitism, which has long been a sociopolitical stain of xenophobia across European lands.
However, it is quite interesting to note that most of these same commentators are not even adequately addressing the fact that the German case in question actually involved a Muslim family, not a Jewish one.
By Christopher Cottrell, CNN
BERLIN (CNN) –Jewish groups in Germany and abroad are divided about a British publishing house's intentions to print excerpts of Adolf Hitler's infamous manifesto "Mein Kampf."
Slated to hit the shelves in Germany January 26, it will be the first time that any parts of the book have been reprinted in a newspaper or magazine in that country since the end of World War II.
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
(CNN) – A letter from Albert Einstein warning of the persecution of Jews in Germany on the eve of World War II is up for auction in California, with the sale ending Tuesday evening Pacific time.
The physicist writes of the importance of "rescuing our persecuted fellow-Jews from their calamitous peril and leading them toward a better future" in the June 10, 1939 letter.
Einstein praises New York businessman Hyman Zinn for his "splendid work" on behalf of refugees.
"We have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity and our knowledge that the cause for which we are suffering is a momentous and sacred cause," Einstein writes to Zinn, of the Manhattan Button Company.
By Rick Noack, CNN
(CNN) – Pope Benedict XVI arrived at Berlin's Tegel airport Thursday morning.
About 6,000 police officers are securing the visit, authorities told CNN.
"Even though this journey is an official visit which will reinforce the good relations existing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See, I have not come here primarily to pursue particular political or economic goals, but rather to meet people and to speak about God," the pope said during a speech at Bellevue Castle.
The Federal Republic of Germany has become what it is today thanks to the power of freedom shaped by responsibility before God and before one another."
Read the full story
By Dana Garrett, CNN
New York (CNN) – A signed letter by Adolf Hitler, which contains what is believed to be the earliest written expression of his views on Jews and anti-Semitism, was unveiled at a press conference in New York on Tuesday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Rabbi Marvin Hier said the letter, written in 1919, is "one of the most important documents in the entire history of the Third Reich."
Wearing white gloves to protect the fragile, yellowing document, Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, pointed out what he considered to be the most significant phrase in the four-page, typed letter - the words "Entfernung der Juden," German for "removal of Jews" - which Hitler wrote must be the government's "final goal."
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - For the 46 days of Lent, J. Wilson is forgoing solid food and only drinking beer and water - just as Bavarian monks did hundreds of years ago.
Wilson is a husband, father, newspaper editor and beer enthusiast. The 38-year-old is the proprietor of the beer blog brewvana, where the motto is, "An ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy."
"That pretty much sums up our lifestyle," Wilson told CNN.
Wilson is not a suds-soaked frat boy, but a careful home brewer with an eye for history and a hope for a spiritual breakthrough.
Pope Benedict XVI will be making his third trip to Germany next year, a church official confirmed on Friday.
Robert Zollitsch, head of Germany's bishops conference, said the head of the Roman Catholic Church will visit Berlin and the dioceses of Freiburg and Erfurt in September.
The pope visited Cologne in August 2005 and Munich and Regensburg in September 2006. The pope is a native of Germany.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.