Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Pakistani President Pardons Christian Woman on Death Row
- China Church Ordains New Bishop without Approval
- Samaritan's Purse Alarmed as Cholera Spreads in Haiti
- Canadian Court Rules Dissident Churches Must Abandon Property
Pakistani President Pardons Christian Woman on Death Row
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari ended a Christian woman's 18-month ordeal yesterday, commuting her death sentence and allowing her to walk free, The Christian Post reports. Asia Noreen (also referred to as Asia Bibi) was the first woman in Pakistan to receive the death sentence under the country's controversial blasphemy laws. The 45-year-old mother appealed her sentence Saturday after drawing international attention. "This is the only acceptable outcome to what has been a travesty of justice from the outset," said Nasir Saeed, coordinator for U.K.-based Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS). "Asia Bibi should never have been charged with blasphemy, let alone found guilty and sentenced to death." Muslim women in Asia Noreen's village accused her of blasphemy after an argument arose and Noreen defended her faith.
China Church Ordains New Bishop without Approval
China's government-sanctioned Catholic Church ordained a new bishop on Sunday without Vatican approval, prompting a papal adviser to call the move "illegitimate" and "shameful." Aljazeera reports that Rev. Guo Jincai's ordination is the first in China in five years. Eight Vatican-approved bishops are believed to have been forced to participate in the ceremony, according to AsiaNews. Father Bernardo Cervellera, the editor of AsiaNews, said that the Chinese government was trying to control the church. "I believe that this imprints above all the situation in China, Catholics are really upset by this move of the government which is trying to divide between those who are patriotic and those who are trying to follow the spiritual guidelines of the popes."
Samaritan's Purse Alarmed as Cholera Spreads in Haiti
More than 1,100 people have died of cholera in Haiti since it first broke out in October, according to Christian Today. Another 18,000 people have become sick because of the intestinal disease that causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Cholera is easily treated but can be fatal if not detected early. "I am alarmed at the rapid spread of cholera in Haiti and the lack of capacity and supplies to properly prevent and treat this life-threatening disease," said Franklin Graham, president and head of the relief and development organization Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse has 295 staff working in Haiti who have treated more than 2,000 cholera patients at the organization's two treatment facilities.
Canadian Court Rules Dissident Churches Must Abandon Property
A Canadian appeals court has ruled in favor of an Anglican diocese in a property dispute with congregations opposed to same-gender blessings. In a unanimous decision released on Nov. 15, British Columbia Court of Appeal Justice Mary Newbury, writing for a three-judge panel, dismissed an appeal by four breakaway parishes against a 2009 lower court ruling. According to Religion News Service, Newbury said that the dissident clergy of the four parishes in the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster cannot remove themselves from their bishop's oversight and the diocesan structure and retain the right to use properties that are held for purposes of Anglican ministry in Canada.