Egyptian abbot’s murderer reportedly confesses
A FORMER monk of the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of San Macario, in Egypt, has been unfrocked after confessing to bludgeoning the Abbot, Bishop Epiphanius, to death, it was reported this week. Wael Saad, who as a monk was known as Isaiah al-Makari, has been charged with murder and remains in police custody. His lawyer, Amir Nossif, has since declined to defend him. Investigations concluded that the Bishop, who was found at the entrance to his monastic cell on 29 July, had been struck by a sharp instrument, which fractured the back of his skull (News, 3 August). A second monk, Faltaous al-Makary, whom Saad is reported to have implicated in the murder, reportedly attempted to take his own life before Saad’s confession.
Ethiopian Orthodox reunite after three decades
THE Ethiopian Orthodox synods in Ethiopia and in exile in the United States have been reconciled after 27 years apart. The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed, met an Arbitration Committee of bishops last month to resolve disagreements that had split the Holy Synod in 1991. Patriarch Abune Merkorios, whose forced abdication at that time occasioned the rift, is reportedly to be reinstated, and the current Patriarch, Abune Matias, will abdicate and become head of administration. The World Council of Churches’ General Secretary, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, welcomed the “remarkable achievement” of reunification.
Apology to Jamaican bishop after marriage mix-up
THE Registrar General’s Department (RGD) in Jamaica, which hold the records for births, deaths, and marriages, has apologised to the Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, Jamaica, the Rt Revd Robert Thompson, after a bureaucratic mix-up left him without his register, which he needs to officiate at marriages. The RGD is implementing mandatory registration and an annual fee for marriage officers. Bishop Thompson was handing in a marriage certificate when an RGD administrator refused to let him fill in the new form at home in his own time, and refused to return his register; so the Bishop said that he would officiate at no more weddings. “It was quite embarrassing,” he told The Sunday Gleaner. The RGD has since apologised: “We are saddened by the decision that he has taken and are willing to accommodate him should he decide to reconsider, as this would be in the interest of Jamaica on the whole and his congregants. . . Marriage officers or civil registrars are allowed to take the form and complete same at their own convenience.”
PASouth Indian floods: monsoon rainfall leading to severe flooding in Kerala, India, last week, had left at least 39 people dead and many others homeless. The Church of South India’s East Kerala and Malabar dioceses are among the areas worst affected. “Educational institutions and religious buildings, including churches, are destroyed by this vigorous southwest monsoon,” a CSI statement says. “There are all the chances of the spreading of contagious diseases as the result of the floods. Food, clothes, and medical aid are the immediate need.” India has set up more than 600 camps for displaced people
Congolese pastors join effort to halt Ebola virus
THE latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has come as a “huge shock” to its people, who are already living in extreme poverty, Tearfund has said. The agency has been working with church partners to address the continuing displacement caused by massacres. “Our deep connections with the Church have allowed us to uniquely access remote communities and provide immediate assistance,” the country director for Tearfund, David McAllister, said. “Pastors are spreading vital advice on washing hands, seeking medical help at the first sign of symptoms, and issuing guidelines on how to handle dead bodies, to curb the spread of disease. Communities are rallying: some congregations are coming together to buy enough bleach for everyone in their church to maintain hygiene, and, where we can, we continue to provide better access to clean water.”
Burundi must seize chance for peace, UN told
POLITICAL leaders in Burundi must “seize the opportunity” of the new constitution to create an environment “conducive to the consolidation of national unity and peace”, the UN Security Council has been told. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Burundi, Michel Kafando, commended the recent commitment of the President, Pierre Nkurunziza, to leaving office in 2020. The crisis in Burundi began in April 2015, when President Nkurunziza began his campaign for a disputed third term in office. Protests and a failed coup followed. Mr Kafando also praised the efforts made by Burundi, Tanzania, and the UNHCR to enable the voluntary return of about 35,000 Burundian refugees since last September.