Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 20, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 20, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Russian Orthodox Leader Chides Faithful over Sloppy Dress
  • Floods Take Huge Toll in Three Countries
  • Pakistani Police Allegedly Threaten Family after Murdering Christian
  • Irish Abuse Victims 'Disgusted' at Vatican Letter

Russian Orthodox Leader Chides Faithful over Sloppy Dress

A top official of the Russian Orthodox Church has called for an official dress code to encourage propriety after suggesting that provocatively dressed women provoke immorality and violence. "Vulgar external appearance and vulgar behavior is a straight path to misery," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said in an open letter, Religion News Service reports. "To empty 'one-night stands.' To short marriages followed by rat-like divorces. To children with broken fates. To loneliness and madness. To catastrophes in life." Chaplin, a top aide to Patriarch Kirill, proposed a "Russia-wide dress code," saying it should apply to men as well. Critics accused Chaplin of "replacing public discourse on the problem of violence against women with discussion of their external appearance."

Floods Take Huge Toll in Three Countries

Baptist Press reports that Southern Baptist disaster relief leaders are assessing needs in three areas of the world where flooding has destroyed homes and taken lives. Flooding and mudslides in southeastern Brazil have claimed at least 665 lives this past week. The events are the worst natural disaster ever recorded in Brazil. In Sri Lanka, more than 1 million people have been forced out of their homes by torrential rain and subsequent flooding in seven districts. At least 27 people have died. And in Australia, four states have faced unprecedented flooding. Government officials say the flooding could wind up being the country's costliest natural disaster ever. Floodwaters were deep enough in one small town that two sharks were spotted swimming through the flooded streets, the Queensland Times reported.

Pakistani Police Allegedly Threaten Family after Murdering Christian

Christians in the city of Karachi, Pakistan, allege that police are covering up the murder of a Christian teen and threatening his family if they pursue justice. Christian residents of Akhter Colony pulled the body of 18-year-old Waqas Gill from the sewer on Jan. 11. They protested an alleged police cover-up by placing the corpse in the middle of a street and chanting slogans against officers of Mehmoodabad police station. Gill's father said four policemen abducted his son without a warrant or charges on Jan. 9. He accuses the officers of raping and killing his son. "Police are now threatening us and other Christians of Akhter Colony that we have to retract the charges [or else face false charges or death]," Gill told Compass Direct News. "Police registered a case against the culprits, but they have not filed it under the proper parts of the section, which weakens the case, and police have done everything possible to save their fellow policemen."

Irish Abuse Victims 'Disgusted' at Vatican Letter

Media outlets were abuzz yesterday after the release of a 1997 letter from a Vatican official that voiced "serious reservations" about requiring bishops to report suspected abuse to police. "We are disgusted by details revealed in the letter. Many of our members just can't take this in and have been deeply affected by the revelations," Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse spokeswoman Margaret McGuckin told CNN. The Vatican called the letter "deeply misunderstood. In 1996, Irish bishops adopted a policy that required all suspected abuse cases to be reported to police. Archbishop Luciano Storero responded to the policy in a letter. According to USA Today, the letter stated that it contained "procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the acts of the same bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems."