Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Pakistani Muslim Prohibits Burial in Christian Graveyard
- Anglican Head: Witness Boldly Despite Injustice
- Official Says Trial Was Never Dropped against Accused Priest
- Scotland: Street Preacher Fined for Calling Homosexuality a Sin
Pakistani Muslim Prohibits Burial in Christian Graveyard
Compass Direct News reports that a Muslim land owner who effectively seized a Christian graveyard in Pakistan refused to allow the burial of a young Christian at the site on March 28. Christians in Noshera Virkan, Gujranwala, have only one graveyard measuring little more than one acre. Muhammad Boota, who owns much of the land in the area, prohibited Christians from burying the body of 25-year-old Riaz Masih there. Social worker Sajjad Masih told Compass that police from Saddar police station arrived and sided with Boota. After a two-hour protest on Monday (March 29), police accompanied the mourners to the graveyard to allow the burial. Khalid Gill, chief organizer in Punjab Province of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, said the graveyard has a long history as a Christian burial site, but in 1997 Boota obtained one-fourth of it and then immediately filed a court case for full possession, bringing an interim stay order until the case is decided. Pakistan civil cases often go on for decades, Gill said, and the case is still pending.
Anglican Head: Witness Boldly Despite Injustice
The Christian Post reports that the head of the Anglican Communion encouraged Christians worldwide to continue witnessing "boldly and clearly" despite recent violence. Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams sympathized with Christians in Nigeria, northern Iraq, and Egypt that have suffered attacks recently. "Christians will never be safe in a world of injustice and mindless fear," he said in his Easter address, "because Christians will always stand, as did Archbishop Romero [who suffered martyrdom in El Salvador 30 years ago], for the hope of a different world, in which the powerful have to let go of privilege and rediscover themselves as servants, and the poor are lifted up into joy and liberty." He reminded Christians in "more comfortable environments" to pray for their brothers in Christ worldwide and provide "tangible support" via Christian activism.
Official Says Trial Was Never Dropped against Accused Priest
Religion News Service reports that, contrary to widely reported charges, Pope Benedict XVI never suspended disciplinary procedures against a Milwaukee priest accused of molesting 200 deaf children. According to the Rev. Thomas Brundage who supervised those proceedings from 1996 to 1998, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy "was still the defendant in a church criminal trial" when he died in 1998. Victims of sex abuse have criticized Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, for his presumed role in the decision to halt proceedings against Murphy, months after the accused had petitioned Ratzinger for clemency shortly before his death. Brundage, who served as chief judge of the church court of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995 to 2003, did not dispute the official account of a 1998 Vatican meeting in which Wisconsin church authorities were instructed to end judicial proceedings against Murphy.
Scotland: Street Preacher Fined for Calling Homosexuality a Sin
Christian Today reports that an American street preacher faces a £1,000 fine for allegedly stating that homosexuals "deserve the wrath of God." Shawn Holes, 47, was preaching in Glasgow city centre on March 18 when a gay couple asked him a question about homosexuality. He was later charged with disturbing the peace and slapped with the fine. Holes plead guilty to the charge because he wanted to get back to the U.S., where his father is in hospice. According to Christian Today, the case has disturbed even gay rights advocates like Peter Tatchell, who called the fine "disproportionate". Holes's lawyer, Tony Kelly of the Christian Institute, had advised Holes to challenge the charge. "This case raises important issues about the interface between the criminal law in Scotland, freedom of speech and religious freedom," Kelly said.