In Brief

In Brief Alain Chrétien, mayor of Vesoul Photo: Teller Report
French mayor apologises over nun garb ‘blunder’

An elderly nun in France has received an apology from a French mayor after retirement home staff wrongly rejected her, citing a strict ban on religious garb and “ostentatious” signs of religion. The rules would have barred the nun from wearing her religious habit and veil at the publicly funded home.

Alain Chrétien, the mayor of Vesoul in the Haute-Saône region, apologised to the nun and offered to help her find public housing. “This error of judgment is very regrettable,” he said, according to the New York Times.

The mayor said that the retirement home’s staff had made a “big blunder”. He said state employees are sometimes “paralysed” by issues of secularism, and worried that “everyone has their own definition” of the term.

US judge places federal executions on hold

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction halting federal executions in the US, saying that a challenge to the proposed execution method should be given time to receive a court ruling.

The Trump administration had announced over the summer that it was planning to resume federal executions, after a 16-year moratorium on the use of the death penalty for federal prisoners.

Attorney General William Barr ordered executions to be scheduled for five inmates on death row. Four of those inmates challenged the lethal injection protocol that was scheduled to be used. The fifth inmate had his execution halted separately in October.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan said that the four death row inmates must have a chance to argue their case in court.

Chinese govt defends Muslim mass detention policy

The Chinese government is defending its policy of mass detention and re-education of Muslims in the country’s northwest as an appropriate measure against terrorism, following a New York Times report that showed the direct involvement of senior government officials in ordering the policy.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criticised the newspaper’s report saying it smeared China’s efforts against extremism, but not disputing the authenticity of the leaked documents, the Times reported.

It reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping laid the groundwork for the development of the mass detentions in a series of private speeches to officials in 2014.

Syrian refugee crisis burdening Lebanon’s resources 

A new report claims that the Syrian refugee crisis is severely burdening Lebanon’s limited resources and threatens its pluralism, requiring immediate international assistance.

“Lebanon is the last safe haven for Christians in the Middle East, and it is at a crossroads,” Toufic Baaklini, president of the group In Defence of Christians, stated upon release of the report ‘Displaced Syrians in Lebanon’. With civil unrest aimed at forming a new government, free from corruption and foreign influence, the Syrian displaced crisis creates an even more critical burden on an already fractured system,” Baaklini said.


African prelates renew commitment to seek peace

The bishops of five West African nations committed to a renewed effort to seek peace in the Sahel region as growing violence has disrupted daily life and uprooted entire communities.

A statement from the bishops released by Catholic Relief Services, which organised the meeting and described it as the first of its kind in the region, said “the Church cannot remain insensitive to the magnitude and consequences of the drama in which populations are plunged”.

The bishops said they would seek “effective conflict prevention and lasting peace and sustainable living, especially through the practice of dialogue, justice and reconciliation”.