WCC renews plea for Syrian archbishops’ release
ALMOST nine years after the abduction of two Syrian archbishops — the Syrian Oriental Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Mar Yohanna Ibrahim, and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, the Most Revd Paul Yazigi (News, 26 April 2013) — the World Council of Churches has reiterated its call for their release. The official Syrian news agency reported at the time that the two men had been seized by a terrorist group in the village of Kfar Dael, in northern Syria, while they were carrying out humanitarian work. The acting general secretary of the WCC, the Revd Professor Ioan Sauca, said last week: “Day after day, we have prayed and we will continue to pray for safe return of the archbishops to their churches, their communities, and their families”.
Bequest is not to ACNA congregation, court rules
A £1.5-MILLION bequest should go to St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Hillsboro, in the diocese of North Texas, part of the Episcopal Church in the United States, and not the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) congregation that is part of the diocese of Fort Worth, McLennan County Court has ruled. After a schism in 2008, the ACNA congregation retained the original building and is also called St Mary’s Episcopal Church. The other St Mary’s received the bequest from the estate of Dr Hendley McDonald after he died in 2017, but this was challenged by ACNA (News, 22 January). The money, held in a joint bank account, has now grown to about $2 million, the Episcopal News Service reports; but will not be touched yet, pending the result of ACNA’s expected appeal.
Widowed pastor sentenced to eight years in China
A WIDOWED mother who leads an independent house church, Pastor Hao Zhiwei, has been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on “fraud” charges by the authorities in Ezhour, in the Hubei province of China, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported last week. She had been held in pre-trial detention since 2019. China Aid reports that she was detained for preaching and collecting offerings without the approval of state-sanctioned associations.
Protest after Italian judge silences bells
SLOVENIAN MEPs have called on the European Commission to “protect traditions” after an Italian judge ruled that the bells of Sant’Ulderico, Dolina, a town with a Slovenian community close to the Italian border with Slovenia, must be removed. There had been complaints of “loud and excessive” ringing. The parish priest, Fr Klemen Zalar, quoted in The Guardian, said: “Fines have been given to Italian parishes if bells are too noisy, but they have never been confiscated before. This reaction was a bit too heavy.” The organiser of a petition protesting against the bells, Mauro Zerial, counted 550 strokes a day between Monday and Saturday, and 1350 on a Sunday.
Texan Governor’s transgender order denounced
A DIRECTIVE by the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, telling state health agencies to investigate, as child abuse, medical procedures provided to transgender children has been condemned by Episcopalians. His letter, sent on 22 February, is attached to an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General which states that gender-transition surgery, puberty-blocking drugs, and other treatments, when given to children, “can legally constitute child abuse” under existing law. The Episcopal News Service reported last week that the Bishop of Texas, the Rt Revd Andrew Doyle, said that the directive to doctors, nurses, and teachers to report such “abuse” had “no force of law”. In a letter to the General Convention’s House of Deputies, its President, the Revd Gay Clark Jennings, called the statement “reprehensible. . . We must do all we can to protect the children whom Governor Abbott has targeted to advance his own political standing and, more broadly, to stop the wave of anti-transgender legislation sweeping across the United States.”