Madeleine Albright dies, aged 84
THE first female US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, died on Wednesday of last week. She had been suffering from cancer. Ms Albright held the government post between 1997 and 2001, and later held leadership positions in various Episcopal institutions, including the College of Preachers. In a statement, the Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, described her as a “committed Episcopalian and trailblazing ambassador”, and said that he was “thankful for her guiding belief that religious leaders have an essential role to play in foreign policy, and for her Anglican sensibility in navigating difference and diversity”. Ms Albright attended St John’s, Washington, and wrote about her faith in her book The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and world affairs.
Bible-quoting politician found not guilty of hate speech
THE Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen has been cleared of three charges of “ethnic agitation” for comments about homosexuality. One of the charges related to a Twitter post in which she questioned the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s decision to work in partnership with a sexual-equality organisation, asking how it could reconcile “shame and sin” with “pride”. Her post was accompanied by a photograph of Romans 1.24-27 (News, 28 January). Another charge related to a 2004 pamphlet in which she described homosexuality as a “developmental disorder”. In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the district court concluded that the statements did not amount to a “compelling societal reason” for “restricting freedom of expression”, and that “it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.” Following the ruling, Dr Räsänen said: “I am so grateful the court recognized the threat to free speech and ruled in our favour.” The prosecution have been given seven days to appeal the ruling.
Pensions Board to champion change in mining
THE Church of England Pensions Board is to lead an initiative to define an “investor agenda” concerning the challenges facing the mining industry. The project, Mining 2030, will focus on eight systemic issues that could have an impact on the mining sector’s licence to operate and disrupt the part that mining must play in the transition to low-carbon energy. Adam Matthews, chair of Mining 2030 and chief responsible investor of the Pensions Board, said: “The role of the mining sector in supporting the low-carbon transition is poorly understood. There is an unavoidable dependency on key minerals that requires significant growth in the mining sector. This is both an opportunity for the sector and also a major risk as eight systemic issues, if not addressed sector-wide, could seriously undermine the global transition.”
Greek Patriarch condemns hotel occupation
THE Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, has condemned the occupying of the Petra Hotel in East Jerusalem by members of an Israeli settler organisation, Ateret Cohanim. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem claims ownership of the hotel, but the settler group has argued in court that it bought the property from a previous patriarch, Irenaios. In a statement issued on Sunday, Patriarch Theophilos described the occupation as an “act of trespassing”. He continued: “Acting in this illegally aggressive manner against a known Christian property and an Arab business — particularly ahead of Easter and Ramadan — could likely ignite local hostil- ities. . . In response to this illegal activity, local residents, business owners, and priests are demanding definitive action.” The World Council of Churches also condemned the occupation of the hotel, which it said had been “the subject of an 18-year legal battle between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and Ateret Cohanim”, described as a settler group “that pushes for increased Jewish presence in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods”.
Melanesian Mission UK launches Covid appeal
THE Melanesian Mission UK has launched an appeal for the Anglican Church’s relief work, as Melanesia experiences its first wave of Covid-19. The funds will be used, among other things, to supply handwashing facilities in schools, churches, and isolated communities; train people to wear face masks; supply hardship funds for families as food prices rise; and provide isolation units for staff and pupils in boarding schools in which there is a Covid outbreak. www.mmuk.net/give
Indian pastor murdered last month, CSW reports
A PASTOR was murdered during an attack by about 50 masked men in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, India, on the evening of 17 March, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports. The pastor, Yallam Shankar, aged 50, was having dinner at his home “when a large mob forced entry, dragged him out and stabbed him with a sharp weapon”, CSW said. A police investigation has begun.