Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Vatican: Ordaining Women Incurs Excommunication
- 23,000 Teens Donate Millions in Free Labor
- Iraq: Pastor Jailed for "Kidnapping"
- Not over yet in China, Burma
Vatican: Ordaining Women Incurs Excommunication
The Catholic News Service reports that both women who attempt to become priests and those who attempt to ordain them incur automatic excommunication, according to the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation. The May 30 decree by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was published "for the good of the church and to ensure bishops have a common way of responding" when such ceremonies are held in their dioceses, Dominican Father Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary of the doctrinal congregation, said. “The problem is not that all of a sudden there was a tsunami of attempted ordinations of women," he continued. Instead, the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches "never anticipated that such a thing would happen” and required explicit application to the offense of women ordination.
23,000 Teens Donate Millions in Free Labor
Young Southern Baptists kicked off a major outreach initiative Friday that will offer $16.4 million in free labor to urban populations over the next few months, according to the Christian Post. The more than 23,000 students – ranging from teen-age to college-age – will each donate a week to participating in the 2008 World Changers project. Participants will rehabilitate sub-standard homes in poor neighborhoods across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Indianapolis will be the first of 96 cities to host the World Changers project. Students will work on 15 homes from May 30 to June 7, installing new roofs, repairing drywalls, paint, and landscape. The program is in its 19th year.
Iraq: Pastor Jailed for "Kidnapping"
According to Compass Direct News, an Iraqi pastor jailed on kidnapping charges and held for 30 days in the Kurdish region last month has said the real reason for his arrest was religious. Pastor Abdul Kareem Yacob said Kurdish secret police arrested, released and then re-arrested him before finally allowing his release on bail on April 28. Yacob’s lawyer, Akram al-Najar, told Compass that though the kidnapping trial is ongoing, he does not believe the court will have any reason to convict his client. Separately, a pastor expects the early release of a Christian teenager from Dohuk jailed for fatally stabbing her uncle in July 2006. Asya Ahmad Muhammad, 16, had stabbed her uncle in self-defense as he was beating her for converting to Christianity and for “shaming” the family by working in public.
Not over yet in China, Burma
CNN reports that an additional 40,000 people have been ordered to evacuate Beichuan county in China due to the ongoing flood threat from the "quake lake," state-run media reported Friday. Nearly 200,000 have been told to leave the area. Chinese authorities say an estimated 1.3 million would have to be evacuated if the dam break completely. Meanwhile, soldiers continue efforts to create a spillway to relieve pressure on the dam. In Burma, only about 50% of the regions affected by Cyclone Nargis have received any help, UNICEF estimated. Although the junta has allowed in non-governmental relief workers, many regions are only reachable after hours of boat travel, as most roads and bridges are impassable. Daily monsoon rains also hamper efforts to deliver shelter, food, water and health care.