US diocese backs lawsuit against council over meals
THE diocese of Oregon and St Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Brookings, are suing the city of Brookings, arguing that the city’s attempt to limit the church’s ministry of feeding the homeless and hunger violates its right to religious freedom, the Episcopal News Service reported on Monday. In October, the city council passed an ordinance that banned churches’ operating any kind of food service, unless they applied for a special permit, which would also limit meal service to twice a week. St Timothy’s has continued to distribute four times a week, with the support of the diocese.
Churches appeal for donations for Tonga
AN APPEAL to help the people of Tonga in the wake of a volcanic eruption and tsuanmi (News, 21 January) has been issued by church leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand, including the Anglicans Archbishop Don Tamihere and Archbishop Philip Richardson. The statement, also signed by Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Quaker leaders, reported by the Anglican Taonga news service on Monday, says: “So far we know three people have lost their lives. Acid rain, ash and other debris cover the land and sea. Water supplies, food crops, homes and infrastructure have been damaged and destroyed. Many are worried and anxious but people are looking after each other. They are praying, singing and cleaning up — as they do after every disaster.” cws.org.nz/donate-now-tonga
Compensation funding raised in France
THE Roman Catholic Church in France has raised more than $22 million (£16.2 million) in compensation for victims of child sex abuse, the National Catholic Register reported this week. In November, the Bishops’ Conference announced that it would auction diocesan properties to make compensation payments, after the report of an Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church revealed widespread sexual abuse by the country’s clergy (News, 12 November; 8 October 2021). The Church also reportedly invited clergy and laity to make donations. Gilles Vermot-Desroches, president of the Selam fund, which is responsible for gathering compensation for victims, told the news agency Agence France-Presse that the money was “a first step”. An initial $5.6 million has reportedly already been set aside for compensation claims under investigation by an independent panel.
Vietnamese priest knifed while hearing confessions
A DOMINICAN priest, Fr Giuse (Joseph) Tran Ngoc Thanh OP, was killed in a knife attack on Saturday while hearing confessions at a mission of Dak Mot, in the central highlands of the country, Vatican News reports. He was 40. Local authorities have arrested the attacker, who is considered a person “mentally ill”, according to the Vatican news agency Fides. Another Dominican religious who rushed to the scene was wounded with a knife when he tried to stop the attacker. Bishop Aloisio Nguyen Hung Vi, of Kon Tum diocese, celebrated a funeral mass on Sunday, during which he said: “When he was hit, Father Joseph stood in the place of Christ, dispensing his forgiveness. Dying at that moment, ‘in persona Christi’, must be a grace.”
Spain hands over contested properties
THE Spanish government has handed over almost 1000 properties claimed by the Roman Catholic Church, after “long-running feuds over ownership”, Reuters reported last week. It was reported that the conflict stemmed from a law, introduced in 1998, which “allowed the Church to register properties linked to religious practice as possessions, even without proof of ownership”. In 2020, the current government compiled a list of 35,000 properties registered during those years, including the cathedral in Córdoba. Last week, the Church said that it could not prove ownership of 965 of them, and agreed to co-operate with local authorities to determine their true ownership.
Christian Aid sounds famine warning
THE UK Government must take urgent action to halt a “devastating global hunger crisis”, highlighted in a new report from the World Food Programme, Christian Aid said last week. The report, Hunger Hotspots, warns that “acute food insecurity” is likely to deteriorate further in 20 areas before May. Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen all have populations “identified or projected to experience starvation and death”. The report identifies organised violence or conflict as the primary drivers of the crisis. Christian Aid has said that the Government “must play a full part in funding the $7-billion package needed to prevent famine globally”.