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World news in brief

19 May 2017


Playing the game: the Russian blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, aged 22, outside a District Court in Yekaterinburg where he was given a suspended sentence of three-and-a-half years. He was charged with extremism, and insulting the religious feelings of believers, connected with playing the Pokémon Go game app in All Saints’, a Russian Orthodox church in Yekaterinburg

Playing the game: the Russian blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, aged 22, outside a District Court in Yekaterinburg where he was given a suspended sentence of...


Churches condemn Philippine bishop’s imprisonment

THE Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has condemned the arrest and detention of a bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, the Rt Revd Carlos Morales, on Thursday of last week, as an “appalling violation of human rights”. Bishop Morales, of the diocese of Ozamiz, was arrested along with his wife, Maria, their driver, and another passenger, in the village of Gango in Ozamis City, Philippines. The Bishop, who is an alleged member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, a coalition of activist and trade-union groups, is facing charges of “harbouring a Most Wanted person”. Dr Mathews George Chunakara, the General Secretary of the CCA, which represents more than 100 churches in south-east Asia, said: “It is unfortunate that Bishop Morales has been accorded with such maltreatment. Despite introducing himself as a bishop, he was illegally arrested, handcuffed, and detained in a crowded holding cell in the city’s police station.” Bishop Antonio Ablon, of the nearby diocese of Pagadian, said that Bishop Morales had an obligation to provide protection to any person who is in distress or politically persecuted.


Purnama imprisoned for blasphemy

PROTESTS broke out in the city of Jakarta, in Indonesia, on Wednesday of last week, after its former Governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced by a court to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy. Mr Purnama, the first Christian Mayor of Jakarta, lost his campaign for re-election last month (News, 5 May). He was accused of blasphemy last year after speaking out against the use of a Qur’an verse by Islamist groups, who were opposing his re-election on the grounds of his Christian faith in a majority-Muslim country. The same opponents brought the charges against him (News, 16 December, Comment, 23 December). Mr Purnama is appealing against the ruling.


Canadian bishop-elect rejected for consecration

THE Bishop-elect of Caledonia, in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Revd Jacob Worley, will not be consecrated bishop, after a ruling from the House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon stated that his “past actions” were contrary to canon law. Mr Worley had served in the Anglican Mission in America under licence from the Province of Rwanda, in the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church in the United States, without the permission of the Episcopal Church, in which he was ordained priest in 2005. Mr Worley founded a new church in New Mexico as a missionary for the Anglican province of Rwanda, in 2007, which would later join the Anglican Church in North America, a grouping of conservative congregations that left the Episcopal Church in 2009. The Bishops registered their objection under Canon 4 (b) vi: “That he or she teaches or holds or within five years previously taught or held anything contrary to the Doctrine or Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.”


Captured Salesian priest in YouTube appeal

A PRIEST of the Roman Catholic Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen in March last year, during an attack on a Missionaries of Charity house in which four Sisters were killed (News, 11 March 2016), has repeated his appeal for release in a second YouTube video. The footage, released last week, has not been authenticated. In it, Fr Uzhunnalil says that he is suffering from poor health, and pleads with Pope Francis to “take care” of his life. The first video was released on Boxing Day last year, and resulted in a letter from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India calling for his release (News, 20 January 2016).


Parole of drink-driving former US bishop rejected

A FORMER suffragan bishop of Maryland in the Episcopal Church in the United States, Heather Cook, who was imprisoned for seven years for drink-driving after a fatal collision with a cyclist, Thomas Palermo (News, 30 October 2015), has had her appeal for parole rejected. The Maryland Parole Commission unanimously denied her request after a hearing at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, where Ms Cook, aged 60, has been serving her sentence, the Associated Press reported last week. The charges included driving nearly three times over the legal alcohol limit, texting while driving, and leaving the scene of the incident. The Commission chairman, David Blumberg, said that she had “lacked remorse” during assessment for parole, and was found “unworthy” of early release.


MARCELO SCHNEIDER/WCCIn the shade: about 800 participants, including 324 delegates, gathered in Windhoek, in the Republic of Namibia, last week, for the 12th assembly of the Lutheran World Federation, its highest decision-making body, which meets every six years

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