Wildfires tear through Californian wine region
THE Episcopal diocese of Northern California spoke of “great loss” after wildfires tore through the wine regions of eight counties this week, destroying crops and businesses, and killing at least 17 people. The 17 separate fires broke out on Sunday and raged across 115,000 acres, and more than 20,000 had had to flee, as the Church Times went to press. More than 150 people were missing and more than 91,000 homes and businesses were without power on Wednesday. Tourism in the Napa Sonoma valleys is expected to be hit badly. The Bishop of Northern California, the Rt Revd Barry Beisner, told the Episcopal News Service: “These tragic fires have greatly impacted some of our congregations.”
Bodies of murdered Coptic Christians returned
THE bodies of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded by IS militants in Libya in 2015 have been returned to their families, after being discovered in a mass grave in the country last week, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported. The men are to be buried in the Church of the Martyrs of Libya in Aour village, north Egypt, which was built after their deaths. The families will formally identify the bodies, but have not been requested to provide DNA samples by either the Libyan or Egyptian authorities, ICC says.
US companies allowed to refuse birth-control subsidy
THE Trump administration has issued a ruling that will allow companies in the United States to refuse to subsidise or reimburse the cost of birth control on the grounds of religion or moral convictions, reversing a key part of the former President Barack Obama’s Obamacare programme, it was reported this week. The move was expected to appeal to Evangelical supporters of President Trump, but has been criticised by Democrats, health professionals, and LGBT and women’s-rights groups, The Times reported. More than 50 million women in the US are currently guaranteed free contraception. The press secretary for the White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said: “The President believes that the freedom to practise one’s faith is a fundamental right in this country and that’s all today was about.”
Legionaries of Christ principal had secret family
THE Legionaries of Christ, an Order of Roman Catholic priests, has been hit by fresh scandal. It announced last week that Fr Oscar Turrion, 49, the former Rector of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, its seminary in Rome, was leaving the priesthood, having fathered two children, Reuters reports. In 2008, the conservative Order denounced its founder, Marcial Maciel Degollado, who died in 2008, after a Vatican investigation confirmed that Degollado had been a sexual abuser and had fathered children with at least two women. Fr Turrion, a Spaniard, was removed from public ministry after telling his superiors in March of his daughter’s birth, the Order’s statement said. He had also fathered a son by the same woman several years previously. A new Rector was appointed.