Venezuelan archbishop decries state of his nation
THE president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, the Archbishop of Cumaná, the Most Revd Diego Padrón, speaking at New Year meeting, has bemoaned the instability, violence, and poverty afflicting the country. Recent evils included nearly 30,000 violent deaths, malnutrition, lack of medicines, 120 political prisoners, “rampant corruption”, and an increasingly authoritarian and anti-democratic government, the Archbishop said. The Roman Catholic Church and its agencies must continue to serve the poor with essentials, and work towards improving the dire political situation, he concluded.
Ugandan bishop calls for reconciliation, not retribution
A RETIRED Anglican Bishop of Kitgum, in Uganda, the Rt Revd Macleord Baker Ochola, has urged communities ravaged by the insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to back restorative-justice efforts. His daughter took her own life after being gang-raped by LRA child soldiers. The Bishop said that true healing would not come after court cases, but through reconciliation and forgiveness, the Religion News Service has reported. An LRA commander went on trial at the International Criminal Court last month, but the Bishop said that this could divide the community rather than bring closure.
Charleston church killer sentenced to death
DYLANN ROOF, a 22-year-old man found guilty last year of murdering nine black people in a racially motivated attack at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, in the United States, has been sentenced to death. The victims were attending Bible study (News, 26 June 2015). Their murderer told police that he was a white supremacist who wanted to ignite a race war in the US.
Maori Archbishop dies in office, aged 92
ONE of the Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Most Revd Brown Turei, has died in office, aged 92. Archbishop Turei, who led the Maori tikanga or section of the Church, died on Monday in hospital, peacefully and with his family at his side. He was ordained in 1950, and had been Primate since 2006, but was expecting to retire this year.
Prison sentence for Chinese dissident church leader
THE leader of a Protestant church that refused to register in the Guizhou province of China has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for “divulging state secrets”. Pastor Yang Hua, of the Living Stone Church, was arrested last January after a campaign of harassment by the local authorities, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported last week. During his trial in December, his wife and members of the public were barred from entering the court, the charity said. His lawyer states that Mr Yang’s detention has seriously damaged his health.
UN aid worker convicted of helping Hamas
AN AID worker with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Palestine has been sentenced to seven months in prison by an Israeli court for assisting Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs the Gaza Strip. Israeli security forces arrested Wahid Abdallah al-Bursh last summer, and alleged that he confessed to aiding Hamas by diverting UN funds. The UNDP said that the judgment confirmed that there had been no wrongdoing by the agency. Israeli police also arrested World Vision’s Gaza manager, Mohammad El Halabi, in August, accusing him of giving donors’ money to Hamas (News, 12 August). His case was ongoing, Reuters reported. Hamas denies any connection to either Mr al-Bursh or Mr El Halabi.