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World news in brief

21 January 2022


Aerial photograph of Nomuka, Tonga, taken on Monday, showing the land covered in ash from the explosion

Aerial photograph of Nomuka, Tonga, taken on Monday, showing the land covered in ash from the explosion

Intercessions offered for Tonga after eruption

THE acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Professor Ioan Sauca, assured the citizens of Tonga of the Churches’ prayers after the volcanic eruption and tsunami on Saturday. Dr Sauca said on Monday: “Amid the chaos and the uncertainty, we pray for you and we stand in solidarity with you amid a terrifying disaster.” The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, who was previously the Bishop of Waikato in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Poly­nesia, of which Tonga is a part, told the newspaper the Craven Herald & Pioneer, on Monday: “It is a worrying and anxious time for this nation state, already impacted by the climate crisis: rising sea levels and more extreme weather events.” The Roman Catholic aid organisation Caritas Australia has launched an appeal to raise funds for relief: caritas.org.au/donate/emergency-appeals/pacificThe Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia has also launched an appeal: anglicantaonga.org.nz/news/tikanga_pasifika/eruption_tonga

Bishops invited to explore conflict before Lambeth

A NEW course for bishops from the Anglican Communion, “Ministry in a Conflicted World”, will be held online from next month until April, as part of the “listening phase” before the Lambeth Conference, which is due to begin in Canterbury in late July (News, 11 June 2021). The Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser on Anglican Communion affairs, the Rt Revd Anthony Poggo, remarked that bishops often faced “conflict, challenge, or polarisation”. The new programme would provide them with space to share and listen to one another. lambethconference.org/ministry-in-a-conflicted-world

Hostage-taker’s Blackburn links sadden North

THE Bishop of Burnley, in the diocese of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Philip North, has expressed sadness that a British man, Malik Faisal Akram, who held four people hostage in a synagogue in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, was from Blackburn. Akram was shot dead by police after a ten-hour stand-off. Bishop North wrote on Twitter on Sunday that he was “very sad” about the link with “a town that has worked so hard to develop community cohesion. Attacks such as this must be a time when people of different faiths commit themselves to deeper friendships.”

Azerbaijan seeks Vatican’s help in resolving dispute

POLITICAL leaders of Azerbaijan have asked the Vatican for help to resolve its ongoing dispute with neighbouring Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the news website Crux reported this week. The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but is mostly governed by the Republic of Artsakh, a de facto state with an Armenian ethnic majority (News, 2 October 2020). Crux quoted Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the Vatican, Rahman Mustafayev, as saying that “implementing a peace treaty is the only possible solution”. He continued: “There are problems, but we have to find a way to achieve stability in the region through diplomatic actions and with concrete gestures at the political level.” The Vatican’s involvement was key, he said. Last week, Pope Francis met religious leaders from Azerbaijan in the Vatican.

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