Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.
In today's edition:
- Claremont Seminary Reaches Out to Include Imams, Rabbis
- Afghan Christians in Hiding after Official's Threat
- World Council of Churches Chief visits Haiti Quake Zone
- Pope Begs Forgiveness for Clergy Sex Abuse
Claremont Seminary Reaches Out to Include Imams, Rabbis
Los Angeles Times reports that the Claremont School of Theology is taking multifaith dialogue to the next level by bringing Muslim imams and Jewish rabbis under its Methodist roof. The move, which will be formally announced tomorrow, will add clerical training for Hindu and Buddhists later. The seminary is believed to be the first accredited institution that will train students of multiple faiths for clerical careers. The news has been highly criticized by conservative Protestants such as Mark Tooley, a conservative Methodist who is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a Washington-based ecumenical organization. "Claremont seems to be moving away from its responsibility to the United Methodist Church," Tooley said. "It almost seems that they're trying to fulfill the stereotype that many in the church have of liberal Methodism on the West Coast."
Afghan Christians in Hiding after Official's Threat
Mission News Network reports than an Afghan government official's recent comments have sent many believers in the country into hiding. Abdul Sattar Khawasi, deputy secretary of the Afghan lower house in parliament, demanded that Christians should be publicly executed after seeing footage of men being baptized and praying in Farsi. The video clip, along with inflammatory statements against the Christian faith, has repeatedly been broadcast on several television stations and sparked riots among students. Afghanistan's constitution states "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of Islam." According to persecution watchdog Open Doors, most Christians in Afghanistan are secret believers and do not own a Bible.
World Council of Churches Chief Visits Haiti Quake Zone
Ecumenical leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere began a three-day visit to Haiti yesterday to learn about faith efforts in the country, according to Christian Today. The delegation, led by World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, will visit various church buildings affected by the quake and church-sponsored relief projects. The January 12 quake left a quarter million people dead and at least 1.3 million homeless, as well as damaging more than 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings. "The people of Haiti should now experience the prompt support and help from others," Tveit said on the morning after the quake. "Let us keep our member churches in Haiti and all affected by the earthquake in our prayers and thoughts."
Pope Begs Forgiveness for Clergy Sex Abuse
Religion News Service reports that Pope Benedict XI begged forgiveness for sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests on June 11, but victims' groups say they want action, not apologies. Addressing 15,000 priests gathered from around the world on the final day of the Vatican's "Year for Priests," the pope pledged to do "everything possible" to stop "sin within the Church". At a Mass before clergy in St. Peter's Square, he said, "[I]n this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light, particularly the abuse of the little ones." He added, "We too beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again."