Holiness in the height
Pope Francis unexpectedly celebrated the marriage of Paula Podesta Ruiz and Carlos Cuiffando Elorriaga, during a flight from Santiago to Iquique (above). The pair, who work as flight attendants, had a civil ceremony eight years ago but the church where they hoped to solemnise their vows had been destroyed in an earthquake. They had only asked the Pope for a blessing, but he spontaneously decided instead to preside at a wedding for the couple, while on board the aeroplane.
Melbourne bishop defends South Sudanese community
THE assistant bishop in the diocese of Melbourne, Australia, the Rt Revd Philip Huggins, has condemned “negative stereotyping” of the South Sudanese community in the state of Victoria, after its young people were implicated in a local “media frenzy” over African gangs. He has since met members of the community to discuss how to protect young people from gang culture, The Melbourne Anglican reports. A service is due to be held for the community in St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Sunday.
Persecution of Christians in China increases
CHRISTIANS in China are being persecuted with renewed fervour, Christian Solidarity Worldwide has warned. This is happening just days before new regulations come into force to strengthen state control over religious activities, on 1 February. Six members of an unregistered church in Yunnan were sentenced to up to 13 years in prison for undermining law enforcement; a church in Shanxi with a 50,000-strong congregation was dynamited; and two pastors in Guizhou were fined more than £1 million for collecting “illegal’ donations”, the charity reported on Monday.