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World news in brief

28 July 2023

AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean

Crowd control: Police attempt to disperse a crowd of protesters in Jerusalem on Monday. Mass demonstrations against the Israeli government’s plans to reduce judicial powers to review government decisions continued this week, as the Knesset voted to enact the first of several planned reforms

Crowd control: Police attempt to disperse a crowd of protesters in Jerusalem on Monday. Mass demonstrations against the Israeli gov...


Welby welcomes Pope’s call to pre-synodal prayer

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed an ecumenical prayer initiative being organised by Pope Francis, in Rome this September: Together Gathering the People of God. In a video posted on social media on Tuesday, Archbishop Welby said: “I am so pleased that Pope Francis is so hospitably inviting churches from around the world to an ecumenical prayer vigil.” The gathering is at the start of the Synodal Assembly of the Roman Catholic Church on 30 September. “We live in a troubled world which feels the pain of division and conflict on a daily basis,” Archbishop Welby said. “We feel inadequate in the face of such turmoil, unsure what positive impact we could have. Yet Jesus calls us . . . to live together in unity in the love of God.”


Iranian Christians arrested in five cities

MORE than 50 Christian converts have been arrested in five Iranian cities this month, some of whom have since been released on bail, the religious-freedom organisation Article 18 reports. The arrests reportedly occurred at the homes and house-churches of at least 51 Christians in Tehran and four other cities: Karaj, Rasht, Orumiyeh, and Aligoudarz. Article 18 reported this week: “Police are entering family homes and seizing parents in front of their children.” Article 18 believes that those arrested had converted to Christianity from Shia Islam, which is the majority faith in Iran.


Priest in Tanzania bludgeoned to death

A ROMAN CATHOLIC priest in Mbulu diocese, Tanzania, Fr Pamphili Nada, was killed on Wednesday by a man believed to have mental-health issues, Vatican News reports. The assailant was subsequently killed by an angry mob. The RC Bishop of Mbulu, the Rt Revd Anthony Gaspar Lagwen, said that Fr Nada, who was parish priest of Karatu in the Arusha region of northern Tanzania, was hit with a heavy iron object by a person believed to have mental-health challenges who had forced the priest to reopen the parish church at 3 a.m. Residents of Karatu were alerted by church bells that were rung by a parish security guard when he realised that the assailant had locked the church from the inside. Residents forced an entry in an attempt to rescue the priest. The regional police chief commander, Justine Masejo, said: “The priest died while being taken to the hospital, and the suspect was killed by angry citizens after receiving information about the incident.”


Einstein letter on religion sold at auction

A LETTER written by Albert Einstein on the creation of the universe has been sold for an undisclosed sum by public auction at the Raab Collection in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. It had been valued at $125,000, Religion News Service reports. In the letter, written on 11 April 1950 to a group of Jewish students in America, Einstein states that a scientist cannot believe in the Torah’s creation story of Genesis, because science “replaces and supersedes” such religious concepts. Martha Munk, the wife of a well-known German rabbi, Michael L. Munk, had written to Einstein: “On behalf of the students of a series of lectures on religion, I would like to ask you whether you think that it is possible for a modern scientist to reconcile the idea of the creation of the world by God, a higher power, with his scientific knowledge.” The Raab Collection website suggests that, although other letters exist describing Einstein’s views on God and Judaism, he was rarely asked about his personal religious beliefs from someone in such a prominent religious position.

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