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World news in brief

20 October 2023


The Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Masahito Moriyama, speaks during a press conference after requesting, via the Tokyo District Court, that the Unification Church be stripped of its religious status

The Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Masahito Moriyama, speaks during a press conference after requesting, via...

Japan plans to strip Moonies of religious status

THE Japanese government has requested that the Unification Church, known colloquially as the Moonies, be stripped of its status as a religious organisation, after the assassination last year of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. The assailant, who held a grudge against the Church over a family bankruptcy, told investigators at the time that he had shot Mr Abe for promoting the Church. If the court in Tokyo accepts the request, the Church will lose corporate, property, and giving tax exemptions. But, even after the process, which could take years, the Church could still continue to operate in a new form, and solicit donations, thought to raise about £55 million a year in Japan. The chief of the legal-affairs department for the Church, Nobuo Okamura, said that the news was “extremely disappointing and regrettable. We believe the request for a dissolution order is a serious development not only for freedom of religion but also human rights.”


Another US bishop investigated under Title IV

Diocese of WyomingDiocese of WyomingTHE Bishop of Wyoming, in the United States, the Rt Revd Paul-Gordon Chandler, has been placed on administrative leave while he is investigated under the Church’s Title IV canons on clergy discipline. The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs provided no information about the nature of the allegations in its notice on Monday. A letter to the diocese from the chair of its standing committee, however, referred to “an alleged indiscretion with a member of our diocesan team”, ENS reports. The restriction on the Bishop’s ministry was enacted by the Vice-President of the House of Bishops, the Rt Revd Mary Gray-Reeves, on behalf of the Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, who is recovering from surgery. Several bishops in the Episcopal Church have recently faced, or are facing, a Title IV investigation, including the Rt Revd Prince Singh (News, 15 September), the Bishop of Florida, the Rt Revd John Howard, and a retired bishop, who, it is alleged, sexually harassed the President of the House of Deputies, Julia Ayala Harris (News, 6 September).


Boost aid to Nagorno-Karabakh refugees, EU is urged

THE Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) have urged the European Union to increase funding to boost humanitarian assistance to ethnic Armenians fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh. In a joint letter, the WCC and CEC called on Brussels and all members of the international community “to provide immediate and sustained humanitarian support for the refugees, especially the most vulnerable and the poorer members of the community”. Last week, about 80 refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh told the Archbishop of Canterbury of their devastation at being forced from their homeland (News, 13 October). The Archbishop, who was in Armenia at the end of a tour of the South Caucasus, assured them that they were not forgotten. “You are the most important people in this story,” he said. Pope Francis has also drawn attention to the crisis, deploring the worsening conditions and issuing a special appeal for the protection of the monasteries and places of worship in the region.


Indiana congregation to rejoin Episcopal Church

A CONGREGATION known as The Table in Indianapolis, which began as a church-plant of the conservative Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), is in the final stages of breaking away to join the Episcopal Church, ENS reported this week. The move, due to different approaches to faith, including issues of racial justice and the part played by women, was announced a year ago (News, 28 October 2022). The Episcopal diocese of Indianapolis is reportedly ready to receive the congregation and its three priests by the end of the year. The Bishop of Indianapolis, the Rt Revd Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, told ENS: “It’s been a pretty meticulous process, because we’re aware that this is not something we have a lot of precedent for. We wanted to make sure that we’re above reproach and taking good pastoral care of both the people and the clergy who will be joining us.”

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