Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Bishops Leave Abuse Policies Largely Intact
- Plight of Christians in Syria May Parallel Iraq
- Nepal Urged to Stop Proposals Hurting Religious Freedom
- Church of England to Conditionally Approve Gay Bishops
Bishops Leave Abuse Policies Largely Intact
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to maintain current church policies on the sexual abuse of children. Religion News Service reports that say the policy contains large loopholes. The 187-5 vote made only minor tweaks to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a set of guidelines adopted in 2002 as the clergy sex abuse scandal spread nationwide. Bishops argue the current rules are effective, pointing to a sharp decline in new incidents of abuse since 2002. Victims' advocates, however, say recent reports of ethical lapses by church leaders in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo., prove that the nonbinding church policies are weak and unenforceable. Most of the revisions approved here bring the U.S. bishops' policies in line with Vatican norms issued in 2010, which equate child abuse with abusing the mentally disabled, and make the acquisition, possession of child pornography a church crime.
Plight of Christians in Syria May Parallel Iraq
As protests against President Bashar al-Assad continue in Syria, Christian and refugee watchdogs say the situation for Christians may soon mirror their plight in Iraq. Greg Musselman, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs Canada, said the situation could spiral into sectarian war. According to Mission Network News, the country's mostly Sunni Arab population goes against the Syrian regime, which is allied to Shia Iran and Hezbollah. "When you look at the situation that's taking place in Syria," he said, "you can draw some parallels to what has gone on in Iraq. I think the consequences could be similar for the church." He also noted that many of Iraq's expatriate Christians have settled in Syria because of proximity. "So you have the Assyrian and the Chaldean Christians that left Iraq, and now they're in a situation where they're having to leave again."
Nepal Urged to Stop Proposals Hurting Religious Freedom
Christian Solidarity Worldwide is urging the Nepal's government to “stop going down a road which will see significant restrictions on religious freedom." In addition to concerns over the proposed new constitution, a government committee has submitted a proposal that would ban all religious propagation. The proposal goes even further than anti-conversion legislation in five states in India, as this proposal does not include limiting conditions of “force," “fraud” or “allurement." Dr. K.B. Rokaya, one of Nepal’s National Human Rights Commissioners, has expressed his “serious concern” about the proposals both for the penal code and the constitution. He said, “Religious freedom is the most fundamental human right for all the people of Nepal... I would like to see explicit mention of freedom to change one’s religion in the new Constitution."
Church of England to Conditionally Approve Gay Bishops
The Christian Post reports that the Church of England is set to publish guidelines today regarding gay clergy as bishops. The document advises that gay clergy involved in civil partnerships should be entitled to become bishops on the proviso that they remain celibate. The guidelines will be sent to members of the church's governing body, the synod, in advance of its meeting in York next month. The new policy acquiesces with British equality legislation. The spiritual head of the Church of England, Dr. Rowan Williams, who has been heavily criticized for an unclear stance on gay clergy, has previously indicated that he had “no problem” with gay bishops as long as they were celibate.