Iranian judges’ opinion on house churches seen
THE Supreme Court in Tehran has decided to review the five-year sentences imposed on Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and eight other Christian converts (News, 6 March 2020), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports. The men were initially convicted of “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionism” and sentenced to five years in prison in 2019. Their sentences were upheld last year without a hearing, after the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, reportedly permitted the judge to bypass court procedures. A statement dated 3 November and seen by CSW says that the judges did not consider proselytising and establishing home churches to be illegal activities. A CSW source said: “Some judges refuse to take orders from the secret police. This new development does not necessarily mean that they will be released, but probably there will be a new trial.”
Plans for Notre-Dame de Paris defended
PLANS to rework the interior of Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris, devastated by fire in 2019 (15 April 2019), have been defended by the priest in charge of the process, Fr Gilles Drouin, after intense criticism in the press. The proposals include projecting Bible verses in multiple languages and murals on the walls and a “discovery trail” featuring chapels that depict themes including various continents, “faith and reason”, and “reconciled creation”. The plans will be heard by the National Heritage and Architecture Commission this month. Maurice Culot, an architect, told The Daily Telegraph last week: “It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame . . . a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place.” But Fr Drouin told AFP that the aim was to welcome and inform the public better, as they were “not always from a Christian culture. . . Chinese visitors may not necessarily understand the Nativity.” The cathedral had “always been open to art from the contemporary period”.
Colombia marks five years since peace deal
PROGESS on the peace agreeement signed in Colombia five years ago (News, 26 November 2016) has been “too slow”, Alejandro Perez of Caritas Colombia, an arm of the country’s Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has warned. “The biggest obstacles for the implementation of the peace deal are the continued attacks and murders of community leaders, victims and human-rights defenders,” he said, in a statement quoted by CAFOD. “The FARC has left many rural areas but the government hasn’t been able to occupy them, leaving a vacuum where armed groups have moved in and are using the land to grow illicit crops, mining and logging.” CAFOD’s Colombia programme officer, Ulrike Beck, said that standing up for peace and reconciliation in the country could be “deadly”. CAFOD is calling on the international community to monitor the security of victim leaders in next year’s elections and urging the Colombian government to guarantee their safety.