World news in brief – Church Times

Protect Shia Muslims in Pakistan, urges CSW

THE Government of Pakistan must increase protections for the country’s Shia Muslims, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has urged, after a suicide bombing last Friday of a Shia mosque in Kocha Risaldar, Peshawar, killed 63 people and injured nearly 200 others. Islamic State said that it was responsible for the attack, CSW reports. The Founder President of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, said on Monday: “While we welcome the [Pakistan] government’s pledge to hold to account those responsible for this heinous attack, we urge them to go further in increasing protections for the country’s Shia community and by resisting narratives which conflate national and religious identities, and risk emboldening the perpetrators of religiously motivated violence and intolerance.”


Welby to join Pope on visit to South Sudan

THE Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, Lord Wallace, will join Pope Francis on a visit to South Sudan in July, Lambeth Palace has confirmed. Vatican News reported last week that Pope Francis would visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2 to 5 July, from where he will travel to the capital of South Sudan, Juba, for a visit that is due to last until 7 July. A Lambeth Palace spokesperson confirmed this week that Archbishop Welby and Lord Wallace would take part in the South Sudan visit. In a joint letter to political leaders of South Sudan last July, on the tenth anniversary of the country’s independence, the Pope, Archbishop Welby, and Lord Wallace warned: “Much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled” (News, 16 July 2021).


Episcopalian-Methodist communion plans on hold

PLANS for full communion between the Episcopal Church in the United States and the United Methodist Church have been delayed, owing to the latter Church’s disagreements about LGBTQ+ members, the Episcopal News Service (ENS) reports. During a recent hearing of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, the Revd Rowan Larson asked committee members “not [to] move forward with any proposal until the United Methodist Church addresses its current ban on LGBTQ+ clergy and the marriage of same-sex couples”, ENS reported on Tuesday. The United Methodists will not resolve the issue until they vote on whether to split over it at their quadrennial General Conference, which has been postponed until 2024. Ms Rose told ENS that, if they voted to split, any plan for full communion would be with those who were LGBTQ+-affirming.


Two-year prison sentence for Nigerian orphanage founder

THE High Court in Kano state, Nigeria, has convicted Professor Richard Solomon Musa Tarfa, co-founder of the Du Merci orphanages, of forging a certificate of registration from the Kano State Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports. At a hearing on Thursday of last week, he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison, and ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 Nigerian naira (approximately £90). CSW said in a statement that Professor Tarfa had provided a witness from his bank and a bank statement showing that he had paid for the certificate, and that the Ministry did not dispute its authenticity. The Ministry said, however, “that a certificate cannot be issued on the same day it is applied for, as had reportedly occurred in this case”. The Founder President of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, described the conviction as “a grave miscarriage of justice” and called for it to be overturned. Professor Tarfa was acquitted last year of abducting 19 children from their legal guardians and confining them in an unregistered orphanage (News, 2 July 2021).


Nine Iranian Christians acquitted

NINE members of the Church of Iran were acquitted last month of charges of “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionism”, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports. The nine were sentenced in 2019 to five years in prison , but were acquitted on 28 February by the the 34th Court of Appeal of the Revolutionary Court, having been released pending a review of the sentences (News, 3 December 2021). One of the nine, however, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, was re-arrested on 15 January on charges of “acting against the security of the country by forming a group and propagating Christianity outside the church and in the house church, and giving information to the enemies of Islam”. If convicted, he faces a six-year prison sentence, CSW says.



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