World news in brief
WCC renews call for release of Syrian archbishops
ALMOST nine years after the kidnapping of two Syrian archbishops — the Eastern Orthodox Syrian Archbishop of Aleppo, Mar Yohanna Ibrahim, and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Monsignor Paul Yazigi (News, April 26, 2013) — the Ecumenical Council of the Churches reiterated its call for their release. The official Syrian news agency reported at the time that the two men had been apprehended by a terrorist group in the village of Kfar Dael, in northern Syria, while carrying out humanitarian work. The WCC’s acting general secretary, Rev. Prof. Ioan Sauca, said last week: “Day by day we have prayed and will continue to pray for the safe return of archbishops to their churches, communities and families. “.
Bequest not to ACNA congregation, court rules
£1.5 MILLION bequest set to go to St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Hillsboro in the Diocese of North Texas, part of the Episcopal Church in the USA, not the congregation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) which is part of the Diocese of Fort Worth, the McLennan County Court 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 his death in 2017, but this was disputed by the ACNA (News, January 22). The money, held in a joint bank account, has now grown to about $2 million, the Episcopal News Service reports; but will not be affected yet, pending the outcome of ACNA’s expected appeal.
Widowed pastor sentenced to eight years in China
A WIDOW mother who leads an independent house church, Pastor Hao Zhiwei, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for “fraud” by authorities in Ezhour, Hubei Province, China, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported. last week. She had been in pretrial 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 silenced the bells
Slovenian MEPs have called on the European Commission to ‘protect traditions’ after an Italian judge ruled that bells in Sant’Ulderico, Dolina, a town with a Slovenian community close to Italy’s border with Slovenia, should be removed . There had been complaints of “loud and excessive” ringtones. The parish priest, Father Klemen Zalar, quoted in The Guardian, said: “Fines have been imposed on Italian parishes if the bells are too loud, but they have never been confiscated before. This reaction was a little too heavy. The organizer of a petition against the bells, Mauro Zerial, counted 550 bells a day between Monday and Saturday, and 1,350 on Sunday.
Texas governor’s transgender order denounced
A DIRECTIVE from Texas Governor Greg Abbott asking state health agencies to investigate child abuse, medical procedures provided to transgender children has been condemned by Episcopalians. Her letter, sent on February 22, is attached to an opinion from the attorney general’s office which states that gender reassignment surgery, puberty-blocking drugs and other treatments, when administered to children, “may legally constitute child abuse” under existing law. The Episcopal Press Service reported last week that the Bishop of Texas, the Most Reverend Andrew Doyle, said the directive to doctors, nurses and teachers to report such “abuse” had “no force of law”. In a letter to the General Convention House of Representatives, its Speaker, the Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, called the statement “reprehensible. . . We must do all we can to protect the children Governor Abbott has targeted to advance his own policy position and, more broadly, to stop the wave of anti-transgender legislation sweeping the United States.