In Brief

In Brief Palestinians sit in the rubble of the destroyed house of Mohammed Abu Aisha from Nusseirat refugee camp , shelled by Israeli forces last night, on May 6, 2019. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90
Bill to end Louisiana death penalty fails

A proposal to allow voters to decide if capital punishment should remain legal in Louisiana has been defeated in the state senate. Senate Bill 112 would have added a question to the next state-wide ballot proposing a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty. It was defeated last week by a vote of 25-13 against, having needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

Speaking during the senate debate, the bill’s sponsor Senator Dan Claitor, said that respect for all human life was paramount.

The measure was supported by the Catholic bishops of the state. Speaking on behalf of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, executive director Rob Tasman said that “justice can never be wrought by killing a human being”.


Pastor jailed for converting people in India is freed

A Protestant pastor in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been acquitted of charges held against him under India’s state-level anti-conversion laws.

Pentecostal Pastor Balu Saste, his wife, his son, and members of his community were violently attacked by Hindus, later detained by the police and accused of trying to convert people to Christianity by force, according to ADF International.

The group announced last week that a court had dropped all charges against Mr Balu and his family.

“The acquittal of Pastor Balu and his family is a vital step towards the protection of religious freedom and the right to freely live out one’s faith,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India.


Witness to Church in face of adversity – bishop

A new bishop in the Philippines has called for Catholics to show courage in the face of violence and persecution.

Speaking at his own consecration, Bishop Fidelis Layog addressed the difficult circumstances facing the Church in the country, but called them an opportunity to witness to the strength of God and his Church. “This is the time for us to show how strong we are in faith and how strong the foundation of our Church is,” the new bishop said.

“Let us not fear knowing that we are never alone. God is with us. God will prevail.” Pope Francis appointed Layog to serve as auxiliary bishop in the diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan last month.


US state declares porn a ‘public health crisis’

The Arizona legislature has passed a resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis and a danger to mental and physical health.

House Concurrent Resolution 2009 was approved 16-13 by the state senate May last week. The measure does not ban adult material, but rather makes a public statement against the dangers of pornography. “Potential detrimental effects on pornography users include toxic sexual behaviours, emotional, mental and medical illnesses and difficulty forming or maintaining intimate relationships,” the resolution reads.

Gaza on edge of ‘economic collapse’, charity warns

Although a ceasefire has calmed a violent situation in Gaza, one Catholic aid agency has warned that the people living there remain extremely vulnerable due to drastic cuts in US humanitarian assistance.

“Gaza is on the edge of a complete economic collapse,” said Hilary DuBose, country representative for Catholic Relief Services in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza.

“Any additional pressure could be disastrous for the people who live there, and restoration of humanitarian aid is urgently needed,” she said.

A ceasefire called last week brought an end to a particularly violent weekend in Gaza, during which about 30 people were killed. Some 700 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel over the weekend.