World News in Brief

Ex-MP to head Britain’s Jesuit Refugee Service

Former Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has been appointed as Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK (JRS UK). Ms Teather joined the International Advocacy team of JRS in June 2015, and has visited JRS projects all over the world as an advocacy adviser.  

While an MP, Ms Teather chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, leading inquiries into immigrant detention and  into how children and young people are treated in the asylum process.

Describing herself as privileged to be able to take on her new role, Ms Teather said her work as an advocacy adviser with JRS led her to believe that the service’s mission “is truly a witness to human dignity”.

“Forced migration is the issue of our age as multiple conflicts and human rights abuses force many from their homes,” she said.  

Ms Teather made her decision to leave politics in 2013 after a month-long retreat at Liverpool’s Loyola Hall. 


‘No to drugs’ – Argentina’s bishops

Argentina’s bishops’ conference has issued a statement entitled “No to drug trafficking, Yes to fullness of life”, calling drug addiction and trafficking “a national tragedy” and warning against “globalisation of indifference which generates an individualistic culture based on consumerism” which they say “provides a favourable situation for the expansion of the drug-trafficking network”.

Praising those judges who “risk their lives and the lives of their families in order to carry out their mission” the bishops argue that “in many parts of the country situations of institutional powerlessness demand responsibility on the part of those in government and all legislators and members of the judiciary”, calling for special and explicit state policies “to work concretely and continually to eliminate both the big drug traffickers and the little drug peddlers “.


Congolese bishops insist on right to speak out

The bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo have spoken out for their right to speak out in the latest stage of their ongoing conflict with President Joseph Kabila, who is suspected of seeking an unconstitutional third presidential term. 

“No one has the right to demand total silence from anyone expressing an opinion or speaking out in a country which calls itself democratic”, the bishops have announced in a statement, asserting that the standing committee of the conference is no ordinary body. 

Comprising archbishops and bishops who preside over various episcopal commissions, they said the standing committee’s members “are not agitators, they are shepherds concerned for the good of the country and good functioning of its institutions”.

On November 24 the committee had issued a statement denouncing “restriction of individual freedoms, increased repression and intimidation”  and citing the country’s constitutional provision that “all Congolese citizens have the duty to tackle any individual or group which takes power by force or exerts power in violation to the indications of the Constitution ”.


Allow children to retain their childhood religion – patriarch

The Catholic Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon has written to members of the Iraqi parliament urging them to work to reverse the already-approved change in the law which anticipates young children becoming Muslim should even one non-Muslim parent convert to Islam.

In his letter, Patriarch Louis Raphael I stated that Christian, Sabei, Mandei and Yazidi children do not wish to become Muslims when just one parent converts, citing the articles of Iraq’s constitution that affirm and safeguard the equality of all citizens and the freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Quoting the Koran, he wrote, “there exists no obligation in religion”.

Highlighting how churches in the West have opened their doors to assist Muslim refugees, even in some cases allowing Muslims to celebrate their religious services within them, he said “We hope Muslims will behave in the same way towards us, because Islam is a religion of mercy and forgiveness”.


Bishop appeals for prayers after shooting in the US

San Bernardino’s Bishop Gerald R. Barnes has urged people to pray for unity and healing in the aftermath of the mass shooting in San Bernardino on December 2 that left 14 people dead and 21 others wounded.

“For those who lost their lives, we pray for their eternal rest and God’s strength to their loved ones left behind; for those who are wounded, we pray for their health and healing,” he said in a statement, calling on people to pray for “all of the victims of this horrific incident and their families” and for law enforcement officers who were dealing with the case.