Church leaders express concern over Lebanon unrest
THE General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has expressed concern for the rights and well-being of the Lebanese people after weeks of political unrest in the country. Hundreds of thousands of people in all regions of the country, and in cities abroad, have been involved in peaceful protests for the past fortnight, accusing the government of corruption and mismanagement of a growing economic crisis. The Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, announced his resignation and that of his government, on Tuesday. Dr Tveit said: “The voice of the Lebanese people, their protest and their demands are a call for justice.” Pope Francis has prayed for a resolution to the crisis, “for the benefit of the entire Middle East Region, which suffers so much”.
A Rocha staff in fatal car crash in South Africa
THE co-founders of the Christian organisation A Rocha, Peter and Miranda Harris, and the chief executive of A Rocha International, Chris Naylor, and his wife, Susanna, a teacher at Christ Church Cathedral Choir School, have been involved in a fatal car incident in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Mrs Harris and the Naylors were killed. Mr Harris and the driver of the car are being treated in hospital and are in a stable condition, A Rocha said in a press statement. The car flipped over a bridge into a river in Port Elizabeth, where the team had been working to secure ministry opportunities. “We know that this comes as a profound shock to everyone in the A Rocha Family and others all around the world,” the statement says. “A more detailed announcement will be made in due course.”
Iranian Christian convert released into internal exile
AN IRANIAN Christian, Ebrahim Firouzi, has been released from prison in Karaj, Iran, this week, where he was serving a five-year sentence on charges related to national security. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that Mr Firouzi had been arrested initially in March 2013 and sentenced to one year in prison in Tehran for “spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran”, but was afterwards sentenced to a further five years, and an additional two years of “internal exile” near the Pakistani border. Before his arrest, he had been supporting his younger siblings and caring for their mother, who died of cancer last December. Mr Firouzi was not allowed to attend her funeral. Kiri Kankhwende of CSW said: “While we welcome the release of Ebrahim Firouzi, we maintain that he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. He was punished for adopting a religion of his choice. . . We call upon the Iranian government to drop the sentence of internal exile, which will take him away from his family for a further two years.”
New name for Vatican Secret Archives
THE Vatican Secret Archives are to be renamed the Vatican Apostolic Archives, Vatican News reports. Pope Francis issued a motu proprio on Monday to change the name with immediate effect. It comes after a consultation period with priests and bishops, including those who work in the archives. Pope Francis said that the word “secret” was translated from its Latin origins, meaning “private”, but had since taken on a more negative meaning — withholding knowledge or information from the general public, for fear of a scandal. “This is entirely the opposite of what the Vatican Secret Archive has always been and intends to be,” he wrote. The Vatican was criticised this week for withholding evidence from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).