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World news in brief

13 October 2023

The reopening of St George and St Thomas, Dublin

The reopening of St George and St Thomas, Dublin

Dublin’s first church reopening for 25 years

ST GEORGE and St Thomas, Cathal Brugha Street, in Dublin, has become the first church in 25 years to reopen for worship in Dublin & Glendalough diocese. The church was taken into administration in April 2017, but was later reconstituted and returned to parishioners at a general Vestry meeting in January. Parishioners organised its reopening communion service on Sunday 24 September. Services will be held on the first and third Sunday of every month at 3 p.m. The last church to reopen in Dublin was St Catherine’s, Thomas Street, which closed for worship in 1966, but was reopened in 1998 by City Outreach for Renewal and Evangelism. Unlike St Catherine’s, however, St George and St Thomas was never deconsecrated. The parish secretary, Okwuchukwu Augustine Ndulue, said: “This is a remarkable day, not just in the life of the present parishioners, but for generations to come.”


Rescue efforts continue in Afghanistan

CHRISTIAN AID has said that it is “working flat out” to respond to Saturday’s 6.3-magnitude earthquake in western Afghanistan, which devastated entire villages and killed at least 1000 people. Thousands more are missing, feared dead. The charity has been co-ordinating, with the UN and other aid agencies, emergency shelter, non-food items, and sanitary and hygiene facilities for survivors, who were reported to be sleeping amid the rubble this week. The Head of Global for Christian Aid, Ray Hasan, said on Monday: “This dreadful disaster comes on top of a country already reeling from acute hunger and a struggling economy. The number of those affected is increasing by the hour. . . Christian Aid is working flat out to see how we can help those most in need.” Rescue efforts were continuing and the number reported dead was rising as the Church Times went to press.



Episcopalians join interfaith climate campaign

THE Episcopal Church in the United States has joined 30 organisations in an ecumenical and interfaith campaign to encourage faith-based solutions to the climate crisis. The planned seven-year campaign One Home One Future was launched in a Zoom event last week. Led by the non-profit organisation ecoAmerica, it seeks “to strengthen vitality, relevance, and community connection across generations — to care for our shared home — in local congregations nationwide”. Resources are to be made available to increase community efforts in all 50 states. The Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice, and creation care, the Revd Melanie Mullen, told the Episcopal News Service: “As we have given grants, shared liturgies, and practiced advocacy about creation care and environmental racism, folks have wanted to get to the next step, asking, ‘What more can we do?’” The campaign had been “designed by faith leaders to equip communities with skills to integrate climate justice and spiritual expression of repair”, she said.


Nigerian bishops seek beatification of murdered girl

THE Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria has begun the process of seeking beatification for a 14-year-old girl, Vivian Ogu, who was killed by armed men in 2009 after resisting their attempts to rape her, Vanguard News reports. Her parents and the director of the Vivian Ogu Movement, the Very Revd Stephen Dumbiri, said last week that the Archbishop of Benin, Dr Augustine Obiora Akubeze, would issue an edict calling on the public to forward their testimonies on the life of Ms Ogu. This would then be subjected to a tribunal. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria had already approved the opening of the cause of the beatification and canonisation of Ms Ogu, Fr Dumbiri said. The cause was “not just because she was killed for refusing to be raped, but because of the great impact she made in the life of so many youths as well as her zeal for the Lord before her death”, he concluded.


Row over Miss Universe entrant from Pakistan

A ROW has broken out over the nomination of a 24-year-old Christian, Erica Robin, to represent Pakistan in the Miss Universe beauty pageant — the first time the country has nominated a candidate in the competition’s 72-year history. Miss Robin, who is from Karachi, was chosen from five finalists at a competition in the Maldives. The BBC reported this week that Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, had called her nomination “shameful”, while the caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar ul-Haq Kakar, had ordered an investigation. Critics have said that she is representing a deeply conservative, Muslim-majority country that does not want to be represented. Miss Robin told the BBC that she did not fully understand the backlash. “I think it is this idea that I would be parading in a swimsuit in a room full of men.” Despite the reaction to her nomination, her aim remains “to change this mindset that Pakistan is a backward country”.


Turkish President flags up support for Syriac Orthodox

A CHURCH in Turkey, said to be the first since the Ottoman era to be built with government backing, has been inaugurated by the President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He laid the foundation stone of the Mor Ephrem Syriac Orthodox Church, in Istanbul, in 2019. He told the gathering for its opening on Sunday: “We are seeing big problems today across many parts of the world. But the solidarity shown here today — I find it very important. We always protect the oppressed against the oppressor. That is our duty.” During his two-decade rule of the Muslim-majority country, President Erdogan has been criticised for converting ancient churches into mosques, including Hagia Sophia (News, 19 June 2020). On Sunday, he said that 20 churches had been repaired since his party came to power in 2002.


Lay-led funerals predicted to increase in Ireland

FUNERALS led by lay people are likely to become the norm in Ireland before the end of the decade, as a result of dwindling clergy numbers, the Association of Catholic Priests has predicted. A spokesman for the group of 1000 priests, Fr Roy Donovan, told the Irish Independent that funerals without a mass would be established in more highly populated urban areas in Ireland within a few years. Many dioceses, including Dublin — the largest in the country — had already introduced training programmes for lay parishioners to ease the burden on overworked priests, he said. More than 70 new lay leaders in the two Roman Catholic dioceses of Clogher and Down & Connor are due to finish their training in the coming months, and are to officiate at funerals.

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