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World news in brief

15 December 2023


The Pope with children in during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, last week

The Pope with children in during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, last week

First World Day of Children to be held in Rome

POPE Francis has announced that the Roman Catholic Church’s first World Day of Children — when thousands of children are expected to gather in Rome — will be observed on 25 May, in the wake of World Youth Day, Vatican News reports. It was announced by the Pope at the Angelus on the feast of the Immaculate Conception last Friday. The idea was put to the Pope in July by a nine-year-old, Alessandro, on the occasion of the Popecast, Vatican Media’s second podcast with Pope Francis. “I like it very much!” the Pope replied, after listening to the voice message. “We can have it organised by the grandparents. A beautiful idea. I will think about it and see how to do it.”

Former diplomat becomes Bishop of North Africa

THE Rt Revd Anthony Ball became Bishop of North Africa on 30 November. He had been Assistant Bishop in the diocese of Egypt, with responsibilities in the Province of Alexandria, since 2021 (News, 5 November 2021). Before that, he was a Canon of Westminster Abbey. After university, he served as a diplomat in the Middle East and Spain. His last posting was in Damascus, where, while working in the British Embassy and as the Anglican Chaplain, he was also the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Heads of the Orthodox Churches in Syria and Lebanon. While on Archbishop Williams’s staff at Lambeth Palace, he was adviser on Anglican Communion, ecumenical, interreligious and international relations, and was the Archbishop’s Chaplain.

Danish Bill passed after Qur’an burnings

THE Danish parliament has voted by 94 to 77 to ban the “inappropriate treatment” of religious texts, after a series of burnings of the Qur’an (News, 15 September). Reuters quoted Inger Stojberg, the leader of the Denmark Democrats, who said: “History will judge us harshly for this, and with good reason. . . What it all comes down to is whether a restriction on freedom of speech is determined by us, or whether it is dictated from the outside.” The intelligence services had warned that the burnings had increased the terrorist threat, the BBC reports.

African Primates express solidarity with Sudan

A “STATEMENT of solidarity” has been sent to the Episcopal Church of Sudan by Anglican Primates in Africa. Eight months after the start of conflict in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (News, 19 April), the letter, sent on 1 December, notes the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of almost one million people. Addressing the Archbishop of Sudan, the Most Revd Ezekiel Kondo, and the Church’s congregations, it calls on the leaders of the two forces “to reconsider their motivations for resorting to armed conflict and instead engage in peaceful negotiations. The true worth of power diminishes if there is no country or people left to be governed. Human life should not be sacrificed for selfish ambitions or personal interests in the pursuit and exercise of power.”

Vatican issues guidance on preservation of ashes

THE Roman Catholic Church’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued responses to questions about what may be done with the ashes of the deceased, Vatican News reports. It confirmed that it is possible to arrange a sacred place “for the commingled accumulation and preservation of the ashes of the baptized”. Ecclesiastical authorities may also “consider and evaluate the request of family members to keep a portion of a deceased person’s ashes in a place significant to the history of the person who died”. Canon law prohibits the scattering of ashes.

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