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World news in brief

03 November 2017


Crossing divides: a Muslim woman, who is a member of the Tzotzil Maya ethnic group, prays at a meeting between Evangelicals and Muslims at a church in an Evangelical church in San Juan Chamula, in Mexico, in August

Crossing divides: a Muslim woman, who is a member of the Tzotzil Maya ethnic group, prays at a meeting between Evangelicals and Muslims at a chu...


One in four agree with criminalising homosexuality

MORE than one in four people around the world think that people in same-sex relationships should be charged as criminals, the 2017 Ilga-Riwi global attitudes survey has found. But its report on sexual, gender, and sex minorities, published on Tuesday, also shows a significant difference in attitude across the 77 countries and territories surveyed: in the 25 countries or states that criminalise same-sex sexual activity, including African regions, 42 per cent agree with the statement, and 36 per cent disagree, compared to 55 per cent disagreeing and 22 per cent agreeing in non-criminalising regions. Read the report at ilga.org.


Confederate plaques removed by Virginian church

THE leaders of Christ Church, Alexandria, an Episcopal church in Virginia, are to remove two plaques in its sanctuary that honour George Washington and the Confederate General Robert E Lee, who worshipped there, because the memorials make some visitors “feel unsafe or unwelcome”, the Associated Press reported this week (News, 8 September). “Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques,” a letter to the congregation explained. It acknowledges the debate over the representation of symbols of the Confederacy and slavery in the wake of the protests of white supremacists in Charlottesville, 100 miles away, earlier this year. “Today our country is trying once again to come to grips with the history of slavery and the subsequent disenfranchisement of people of colour.” President Donald Trump commented: “So, this week it’s Robert E Lee,” he said. “I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” But the Rector of Christ Church, the Revd Noelle York-Simmons, said that most of the congregation were happy with the decision. “We are proud of the history of our church. . . but we are a church, not a museum.”


New Anglican Communion director for theological education named

THE vice principal of St Hild College, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, the Revd Dr Stephen Spencer has been appointed to the new post of director for theological education in the Anglican Communion. Dr Spencer will work to build links between theological colleges and courses in the global North and the global South, the Anglican Communion News Service reported on Tuesday. “There are resources and inspiration which can be shared in both directions, for the benefit of all,” he said, “and the director will need to be a kind of matchmaker, facilitating this.” The post, which was recommended by a working group in 2012 and later approved by the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, is funded by the St Augustine’s Foundation, in Canterbury. The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, welcomed the appointment. “In many parts of the Communion theological education resources and activity is constrained, so this post and Stephen’s appointment represent an important investment for the future.”


Roma people suffering from statelessness

THOUSANDS of Roma living in the Western Balkans and Ukraine are suffering because they do not have the documentation, such as a birth certificate, to benefit from state education, housing, or healthcare, a joint report from the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI), and the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) has warned. It calls on governments in the region to reform complex civil registration procedures which prevent Roma people from accessing the documents needed to prove their identity and nationality. “Leaving Romani children without a birth certificate means that they are growing up without a nationality.” The report also explores the impact of war on Roma people after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and their systemic exclusion and discrimination.

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