United Methodists affirm same-sex-marriage ban
THE General Conference of the United Methodist Church in the United States has voted to uphold and strengthen its policy against same-sex marriage in church and the ordination of LGBT clergy. Last week, 438 of 822 delegates meeting in St Louis, Missouri, in the United States, voted in favour of reaffirming that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” — a policy established in 1972. The policy, called the Traditional Plan, was updated to include sanctions against clergy who conducted same-sex marriages in church, and asks people who do not intend to obey it to find another Church. The move follows years of inconsistency between individual United Methodist churches.
Vatican archives on Pius XII and Jews to be opened
THE Vatican is to give researchers access to its archives on the pontificate of Pius XII (1939 to 1958) and his earlier period as apostolic nuncio to Germany, in response to criticism that he had not spoken out against the rising persecution of Jews which culminated in the Holocaust. Pope Francis told Vatican archivists this week that documents would be available to researchers from 2 March next year, The Times reported, to uncover his predecessor’s “moments of extreme difficulty, of tormented decisions, of human and Christian prudence that could appear to some as reticence. . . [but which were attempts] to keep the flame of humanitarian initiative, as well as hidden but active diplomacy, alive in a dark, cruel time”. The Vatican usually keeps documents secret until 70 years after a papacy.
UN seeks accountability for Israeli forces
THE use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition by Israeli security forces in response to protests on the Gaza border fence has been described by the United Nations as “a recipe for more bloodshed”. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territory, Michael Lynk, said this week that two boys aged 14 and 17 had been had been killed by live ammunition, and another 16-year-old boy had died after being struck on the head by a tear-gas canister, during a protest last month. “According to human-rights organisations, the three boys posed no threat to Israeli forces,” he said. “We must ensure legal accountability and end impunity for the excessive use of force against largely peaceful Palestinian demonstrators.” More than 180 deaths, including those of 35 children, three paramedics, and two journalists, are being investigated by the Human Rights Council.