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World news in brief

18 January 2019


The Trevi Fountain in Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Caritas will still benefit from Trevi Fountain coins

THE £1.3 million in coins tossed into the Trevi Fountain in Rome by visitors every year will still be donated to the RC charity Caritas, the Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi has confirmed, after reports that the city council intended to pocket the funds. Caritas has received the money from the fountain since 2001 — about 15 per cent of its budget — when the then Mayor, Francesco Rutelli, stopped people from privately collecting the coins. A leaked document from the current mayoral administration this week suggested that the money might be used instead to bolster the city’s infrastructure. Responding to the subsequent confusion of Caritas supporters, Mayor Raggi told Vatican News, in Italian, on Monday: “I confirm that [the coins] will remain available to the charitable activities of the diocesan body. No one has ever thought of depriving Caritas of these funds.”


Churches in Punjab at risk of closure over security

CHURCHES in Punjab, Pakistan, are at risk of being closed because they cannot afford to implement the government’s new security requirements after several attacks, the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance, and Settlement (CLAAS) has warned. The interdenominational organisation, which supports Christians in Pakistan who are being persecuted because of their faith, said that churches were being forced to pay for increased security arrangements by the end of March, or face closure. The government has yet to list the minimum standards required. A statement from CLAAS said: “The government has failed to bring the perpetrators [of church attacks] to justice, and, now, instead of providing security to them, it is shifting its responsibility to the churches. Most churches are poor, and it will not be possible for many of them to make their own security arrangements, sadly resulting in some churches facing closure.”


Cuban draft constitution criticised by CSW

THE National Assembly of Cuba has failed to protect freedom of religion or belief in a final draft constitution which will go to a public referendum on 24 February, despite calls from the Cuban Catholic Bishops’ Conference to do so, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has said this week. The final draft constitution, published this month, reads: “The State recognises, respects and guarantees Religious Freedom. The Cuban State is secular. In the Republic of Cuba, the religious institutions and fraternal associations are separate from the State and all have the same rights and responsibilities. The different beliefs and religions enjoy equal treatment.” The joint head of advocacy for CSW, Anna-Lee Stangl, said: “The current language is problematic, as it refers to rights, responsibilities, and treatment, without defining any of these. . . It is disappointing, if not surprising, that the National Assembly has ignored calls from Catholic and Protestant leaders, and failed to put in place robust protections for freedom of religion or belief and freedom of conscience in Cuba.”


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