Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Cardinal Says U.S. Morally Obliged to Protect Iraqis
- Cholera Deaths Double in Aftermath of Hurricane Tomas
- Christian Group Petitions UN after Death Sentence in Pakistan
- Belarus: Pastor Fined, Church Bank Frozen
Cardinal Says U.S. Morally Obliged to Protect Iraqis
The nation's leading Catholic bishop said the U.S. has failed to help Iraqis develop the means and political will to protect its citizens, particularly Christians. Dozens of believers have been wounded and killed in recent weeks. "Having invaded Iraq, our nation has a moral obligation not to abandon those Iraqis who cannot defend themselves," Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote in a letter to President Obama last week, according to Religion News Service. Al-Qaida gunmen killed 58 worshippers and wounded 75 more in an attack during worship services on Oct. 31 at the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad; Christian neighborhoods in Iraq have been blasted this week by roadside bombs and mortar shells, killing at least five people. Christians form less than 3 percent of the Iraqi population; the vast majority of Iraqis are Muslim.
Cholera Deaths Double in Aftermath of Hurricane Tomas
Haitian and international health officials acknowledged Thursday that the cholera epidemic continues to grow at an alarming rate, and is now "a matter of national security." Three weeks after cholera was confirmed in the Caribbean nation, the waterborne sickness has claimed at least 643 lives, mostly in the countryside. Approximately 10,000 people are infected and have been hospitalized for cholera throughout Haiti with symptoms including serious diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Relief group Food For The Poor has kept busy shipping medicine, hygiene kits, and rehydration fluids, but had to contend with rain and severe flooding from Hurricane Tomas. "Due to the lack of sanitary conditions for more than a million displaced earthquake survivors the threat of an epidemic has been a real possibility for months," said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor President/CEO.
Christian Group Petitions UN after Death Sentence in Pakistan
The plight of a Christian woman who faces the death sentence in Pakistan has drawn international attention, and human rights groups now plan to bring her case before the United Nations. Christian Today reports that Christian Freedom International (CFI) formed an online petition this week calling on U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan E. Rice to shine the international spotlight on Asia Bibi. "We believe that it is imperative that the United Nations exerts pressure on the Pakistani government to steadfastly enforce law protecting the humanitarian rights of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation," CFI President Jim Jacobson said in a statement. Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been roundly criticized for their harsh application against religious minorities. Bibi, a mother of two, is the first woman to be sentenced to death under the laws.
Belarus: Pastor Fined, Church Bank Frozen
Forum 18 News reports that a pastor in Belarus has been fined for alleged unsanitary conditions for food served to children at a summer Bible school. Trouble began when local Ideology official Vladimir Zagorsky with two other officials visited the Bible school. Zagorsky alleged that schools have the "duty to control children going to churches during school holidays," although he could not find legal support when asked. Also, New Life Pentecostal Church in the capital Minsk has had to exist without a legal bank account after two large fines were imposed in July. "By law, all the contributions we receive have to be placed in our bank account by the following day. We can't do this", the church's lawyer said. Paying staff wages and pension contributions is now difficult, and some charities the church supports will not accept gifts in cash, he added.