October 19, 2012 A German regional court effectively banned circumcision this summer after ruling that the ancient practice amounts to assault. That fueled accusations of religious intolerance in a country still haunted by its Nazi past. Now lawmakers are pushing through a bill to make circumcision legal.
October 11, 2012 This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, which opened the Catholic Church's window onto the modern world. Among other things, it gave a larger role to lay people and updated the liturgy. But the changes provoked a backlash, the effects of which are being felt even today.
October 9, 2012 German Catholics are facing a stark choice: Pay a church tax or forget about receiving the sacraments, including baptisms, weddings and funerals. Germany taxes registered Catholics, Protestants and Jews. In 2011, the tax raised $6.5 billion for the Catholic Church alone. Many progressives and conservatives are up in arms over the German bishops' decree.
September 23, 2012 The automaker, a symbol of Italy's industrial revolution and the country's biggest employer, had threatened to shut down its operations. It's part of a wider problem: A decade of globalization and three years of the euro crisis have accelerated Italy's industrial decay.
August 18, 2012 Italy is cracking down on notoriously wily tax evaders in an effort to reduce its huge debt. Yacht owners have become a prime target, with authorities conducting surprise dockside inspections. But many boat owners have taken pre-emptive measures and simply sailed off into the Mediterranean.
July 31, 2012 The eurozone crisis has led to sharp spending cuts and, with an economy based on public sector wages, Sicily is being called Italy's Greece. The central government fears Sicily's debt of more than $6 billion could further endanger Italy's financial stability.
July 24, 2012 Italy's government has passed a law that would grant work and residence permits to illegal migrants who report exploitive employers. But the economic crisis means the law is unlikely to be effective, as desperate migrants compete for limited work and the illegal economy grows.
July 14, 2012 Last January, an apparent act of maritime bravado went terribly wrong a few yards from the shore of a Tuscan island. The mega-cruise ship Costa Concordia still lies on its side off the shore, a massive reminder of a tragedy that's altering the island's economy and environment.
July 7, 2012 The star of Italy's Euro 2012 team is the Sicilian-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, raised by an adoptive, white Italian family. Mario Balotelli has been subjected to racism on and off the field. Now, his success is prompting a rethink in a country that's notorious for its hostility to immigrants.