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World news in brief

30 September 2022

Open Doors

A recent portrait of Brother Andrew

A recent portrait of Brother Andrew

Brother Andrew, ‘God’s smuggler’, dies, aged 94

THE Dutch preacher and founder of the Christian charity Open Doors, Anne Van Der Bijl, known as Brother Andrew, who crossed the Iron Curtain to minister to churches in Warsaw, has died, aged 94. He founded Open Doors on 15 July 1955 (News, 17 July 2020), when he began smuggling Bibles into the country and offering support to persecuted Christians. His book God’s Smuggler (1964) sold more than ten million copies in 35 languages. The chief executive of Open Doors, Henrietta Blyth, said: “He leaves behind a remarkable legacy.” Brother Andrew was born on 11 May 1928 in Sint Pancras, in the Netherlands. He joined the colonial army of the Dutch East Indies, and converted to Christianity during a period of convalescence during which he spent much of his time reading the Bible.


Flemish RC bishops issue prayers for same-sex couples

THE RC Bishops’ Conference of Belgium has published a document that includes a prayer and a benediction for stable same-sex relationships, media report. The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith confirmed last year (News, 26 March 2021) that blessing of same-sex unions was not permitted. The Bishops’ document, published this month, says that the Church intends to be “pastorally close to homosexual persons” and to be a “welcoming Church that excludes no one”. It affirms that same-sex unions are not “what the Church understands by a sacramental marriage”. The Vatican has not yet commented. Bishop José Ignacio Munilla of Orihuela-Alicante, in Spain, told the Catholic News Agency last week: “It’s not that the Church doesn’t love. It’s that she has no authority to do such a thing.”


South Carolina dioceses reach final settlement

THE Anglican Diocese of South Carolina (ADOSC) and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (EDOSC) have reached a final settlement agreement resolving numerous outstanding legal issues over the ownership of diocesan property. The ADOSC broke away from the Episcopal Church in the US owing to issues such as the ordination of partnered gay clerics and steps taken by the Church to change its canons to allow same-sex marriage. After years of legal wrangles over the use and ownership of names (News, 4 October 2019), land, and property (News, 6 October 2017), the Bishop of each diocese has agreed to a settlement in the hope that both can move forward with their ministry. Bishop Chip Edgar of the ADOSC said: “Getting to this point required compromise from both sides; compromise always includes wins and losses.” Although losses of parish buildings had been “painful” he was glad that the litigation had ended, he said. Bishop Woodliff-Stanley of EDOSC said: “While each diocese has had to leave things on the table . . . we have seen the Spirit at work in drawing us toward God’s redemptive way of love at every juncture.”


AlamyFunds flow in: at Washington National Cathedral, $115 million has been raised in the first three years of a five-year effort to finance repairs. The building was damaged in an earthquake in 2011. The campaign target is $150 million. Its success so far was celebrated at the Sunday service. It is 115 years this week that the foundation stone was laid



GreenFaith welcomes EU pipeline resolution

THE interfaith environmental organisation GreenFaith has welcomed a resolution from the European Parliament which expressed concern about the effects of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project. The EU said that local landholders’ rights in East Africa were being violated as companies bought up the land needed for the 1443km project. GreenFaith’s Global Organising Co-Director, Meryne Warah, said that the EU Parliament’s action was an affirmation of climate- and human-rights concerns of people of faith along the pipeline route in Tanzania and Uganda. One GreenFaith activist in Uganda, Edwin Mumbere, said: “EACOP has displaced dozens of families in my region and none of them has received compensation commensurate with their losses and suffering. Climate change will displace more of us in the future. I’m glad that the EU is finally holding accountable those who are responsible for this.”


Crackdown on Chinese Christians continues

CHRISTIAN SOLIDARITY WORLDWIDE (CSW) called last week for the release of five Christians from a rural part of Yunnan province in south-western China. CSW reports that Wang Shunping, a preacher, and four other Christians were taken into policy custody on 2 August. On 16 September, police announced their intention of charging Mr Wang with “organising and sponsoring an illegal gathering”. These detentions follow arrests made in recent months. Geng Zejun, a preacher at a church in Shijiazui, in north-western China, was sentenced on 12 August to 15 months in prison for “organising illegal gatherings”, CSW says.

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