Past decade sees 170,000 children’s rights ‘gravely violated’ – report
The past decade saw troubling levels of violence against children, with some 45 children seeing their rights “gravely violated” each day during the 2010s, a new report from the United Nations has said.
In total, more than 170,000 children were affected by conflict throughout the past decade, said a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report detailing the major atrocities against children around the world.
These violations included the killing, maiming, abduction, sexual assault, and forced military service of children. The regions highlighted in the UNICEF report were the Middle East and Africa, although children around the world were at risk.
“Conflicts around the world are lasting longer, causing more bloodshed and claiming more young lives” than in previous times, said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF.
Mexican bishop supports bill granting more religious freedom
The president of the Mexican bishops’ conference has expressed his support for a bill that would grant more freedom to the Church in the country, loosening long-established restrictions on religious groups.
“I like the proposal a lot because it is framed in terms of human rights,” said Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López of Monterrey. He stressed that “citizens have the right to believe or not believe, the right to belong or not belong to a church or religion. This is the point of departure and it’s very important”.
The bill reforming the 1992 Law on Religious Associations and Public Worship was introduced last month by Senator María Soledad Luévano Cantú and is now being studied by Senate committees.
US archbishop roundly condemns ‘ongoing persecution’ of Christians
Decrying the acts of religious violence that have taken place during the Christmas season, the president of the US bishops declared: “Violence in the name of God is blasphemy.”
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, chosen in November as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: “The rise of anti-Semitic violence in this country and around the world must be condemned along with the ongoing persecution of Christians. Protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience should be among the highest priorities of every government.”
Texas prelates offer prayers after deadly church shooting
Catholic leaders in Texas offered prayers following a deadly shooting at a Christian church at the end of December.
“We extend heartfelt prayers for those affected by the shootings at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, TX,” said Bishop Edward Burns on Twitter.
Shortly before 11 am on December 29, a gunman opened fire at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a few miles west of Fort Worth. The gunman killed two people before members of the congregation shot and killed him.
In a statement following the shooting, Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth called for prayers “for those who were affected by the hateful act of violence”.
Families facing food shortages in Zimbabwe after severe drought
As severe drought conditions continue in Zimbabwe, close to seven million people are facing food shortages, a Catholic aid agency has warned.
“Families have run out of options to put food on their tables,” said Dorrett Byrd, Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) regional director for Southern Africa.
With repeated droughts over the past five years, many of Zimbabwe’s small farmers have found themselves unable to feed their families. The United Nations estimates that nearly half of the 16 million people in the country are urgently in need of food aid, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network ranks the country as experiencing a ‘Phase 3 food crisis’, signifying widespread acute malnutrition.