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World news in brief

17 June 2022


The sculpture known as the Judensau, on the Stadtkirche, Wittenberg, in eastern Germany

The sculpture known as the Judensau, on the Stadtkirche, Wittenberg, in eastern Germany

‘Anti-Semitic’ sculpture can stay

THE Federal Court of Justice in Germany has ruled that a medieval sculpture on the wall of the Stadtkirche, Wittenberg, where Luther preached, can remain. The sculpture has been deemed anti-Semitic for its depiction of a pig suckling two Jewish children. The ruling upheld those of lower courts that dismissed the case, saying that there was no breach of the law. For years, the plaintiff, who is Jewish, has been attempting to have the sandstone carving, which is about four metres from the ground, removed through the courts. The Central Council of Jews in Germany said that, while it understood the decision, the accompanying floor plaque and explanatory display did not go far enough.


Come clean, Archbishop’s office urges Ramaphosa

“QUICK and clear answers” are needed from the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, concerning accusations of kidnapping, bribery, money-laundering, and “concealing a crime” made against him this month in relation to the alleged theft of $4 million from his Phala Phala Farm, a statement from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has said. “Although there does not appear to be any equivalence between the actions of President Ramaphosa in keeping large amounts of cash on his farm and the crimes committed under the previous administration, the public is owed quick and clear answers on whether he kept foreign currency in contravention of Reserve Bank regulations, and whether tax has been paid on sales from his farm,” it said. “There cannot be one law for the rich and well-connected, and another for the rest of us.” The statement was issued last Friday by the office of the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, who is on sabbatical, “with his approval”.


Covid depletes US House of Deputies

AS OF last week, 234 members of the House of Deputies have pulled out of the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States because of Covid, the House reported on its website this week. This represents more than one quarter (27 per cent) of the 868 certified deputies. A further 99 of an estimated 455 certified alternate deputies (22 per cent) have resigned, and 55 of the 483 deputies (11 per cent) appointed to legislative committees have resigned from their committees, although some have remained as deputies. “A variety of factors have contributed to the turnover. Some deputies have contracted Covid. Others are concerned for their own health and the health of family members,” the House reports. “Twelve deputies and alternates have died, which is more than usual,” at least four from Covid, the House’s president, the Revd Gay Clark Jennings, said.


Israeli settlers can keep hotel, court rules

THE Supreme Court of Israel has upheld the decision of a lower court to allow the transfer of rights of members of an Israeli settler organisation, Ateret Cohanim, to occupy two hotels in East Jerusalem and a third property in the Christian Quarter (News, 1 April). The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem claims ownership of the buildings, but the settler group argued in court that it bought the property from a previous patriarch, Irenaios, in 2004. Three Supreme Court Judges found “no error” in the 2020 Jerusalem District Court ruling that rejected a request from the Greek Orthodox Church to reopen the case on the basis of what it said was new evidence of “delinquent behaviour, which includes extortion and fraud”, the news website The Times of Israel reports.


Make celibacy optional, say Spanish bishops

THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Spain, meeting in Madrid last week, has asked the Vatican to consider optional celibacy and the ordination both of married men and of women, it has been reported. A document seen by the French agency AFP was reportedly drawn up after months of consultation with more than 215,000 lay people, priests, and bishops, and speaks of “the need to discern in greater depth about the question of optional celibacy for priests and the ordination of married people; to a lesser extent, the issue of the ordination of women has also arisen. . . There is a clear request that, as a Church, we hold dialogue about these issues… to be able to offer a more holistic approach to our society.” The paper is to be presented to the Synod of bishops at the Vatican next year.

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