Nantes Cathedral warden confesses to arson
A VOLUNTEER at Nantes Cathedral, in western France, has admitted to starting the fire that devastated the building last week, it was reported on Sunday (News, 24 July). The 39-year-old, a Rwandan refugee who has not been named, worked as a warden at the cathedral and had been responsible for locking the building on the day of the fire. He had initially been detained for questioning by police, but was released without charge. He has since been rearrested. No motive has been given. His lawyer told Reuters that the confession had been a “relief” for his client. A statement from the diocese of Nantes said that it was conflicted by feelings of “incomprehension and anger” as well as compassion for the suspect. “What reasons could have led him to commit this senseless act? It is up to justice to establish it.”
New president for Christian Solidarity International
THE Council of Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Switzerland-based charity campaigning for religious freedom, has elected Dr John Eibner as its new president. He succeeds Herbert Meier. Dr Eibner is a human-rights activist who has worked for CSI for 30 years in Nagorno Karabakh, Sudan, Iraq, and Syria. He said: “Religious persecution is more widespread and violent than ever before. My goal is to intensify CSI’s special campaigns for genocide prevention in Nigeria, and for the preservation of religious pluralism in Syria.”
US bishop condemns federal execution
THE Bishop of Indianapolis, in the United States, the Rt Revd Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, has expressed horror at the first execution under US federal law carried out since 2003, after the US Supreme Court overturned a decision by a federal judge to prevent it, the Episcopal News Service (ENS) reports. Daniel Lewis Lee, who was convicted in 1999 of murdering a family in Arkansas as part of a white-supremacist plot, was executed by lethal injection at the US Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana, on 14 July. The federal prison holds 60 male death-row inmates; four more inmates are due to be executed in the coming weeks. The Bishop told ENS: “It’s just a horrific thing. The death penalty is abhorrent to God.” The Episcopal Church’s General Convention has opposed capital punishment since 1958.
Water tanks installed in Bethlehem
THE charity Friends of the Holy Land has installed 20 water tanks for Christian families in Bethlehem, after an appeal was launched in partnership with the charity Pro Terra Sancta. Christian tradespeople from the area were hired to install the tanks. Lack of water is a serious issue in the West Bank, owing to a poor distribution system and management of the water network, the Friends report. Families that were receiving enough water for two or three days over a fortnight have had to stretch this supply over a month during the Covid-19 crisis. “Existing back-up water tanks on many roofs are old and rusted, particularly in older towns such as Bethlehem, and the bowser-transported water is often contaminated. Consequently, more than 40 per cent of children suffer from chronic diarrhoea and other diseases related to lack of water and hygiene.” www.friendsoftheholyland.org.uk