World News in Brief

Security failures led to massacre in Nigeria – claim

A Nigerian bishop has denounced security failures that enabled the massacre of at least 20 people.

The massacre took place on April 25 in the township of Nimbus in the south-east of Nigeria, shortly after security forces withdrew from the area. It has been attributed to Fulani herdsmen, a group of whom attacked the car belonging to Abuja’s Cardinal John Onaiyekan three days later.

“The most painful aspect of the Nimbo massacre is that it was announced, expected and executed without inhibition – in broad daylight!” said Nuskka’s Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah in a statement, noting that the attack, as well as indiscriminately killing people, especially targeted the homes of the local Protestant pastor and a Catholic parish priest.

Dr Onah questioned the security forces’ behaviour, and – in light of other attacks elsewhere in Nigeria – wondered if Fulani herdsmen really were to blame, or whether it was the case that Boko Haram has relocated from north-eastern Nigeria.


Pakistan death sentences appeal

An appeal has been filed to Pakistan’s Court of Appeal on behalf of a Christian couple facing a death sentence for blasphemy.

The first appeal hearings for Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar will be heard later this month. The Punjabi couple, who were sentenced to death in 2014, were accused in July 2013 of sending blasphemous text messages and were subsequently arrested.

“The text messages were written in English but both of the accused were uneducated and incapable of writing proper Urdu let alone English,” lawyers from the Farrukh Saif Foundation have pointed out, arguing also that Shafqat, who has been in a wheelchair since a 2004 accident, was tortured in front of his wife in order to obtain a confession. The death penalty was issued without the police producing any mobile phone or a SIM card.


Embezzlement costs United States Church $90m annually

A bookkeeper has pleaded not guilty to charges that she stole nearly $200,000 (€173,000) from a Catholic church and school in the US state of Minnesota.

Thirty-seven-year-old Ryan Mae McFarland, who was in charge of payroll and church contributions at Albert Lea, is charged with nine felony counts of theft by swindle after having allegedly transferred funds from St Theodore Catholic Church and its school to her personal accounts between August 2013 and February 2014.

A 2006 study by Villanova University found that 85% of US dioceses had experienced some form of embezzlement within the previous five years, usually at parish level. 

By one estimate, Catholic parishes may lose as much as $90 million (€78 million) annually due to inadequate financial controls.

With average annual parish revenue in the US being $695,291 (€601,515) and with average parish expenses $626,000 (€541,569), according to 2011 data from Georgetown University’s Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate, most parishes are highly vulnerable to the effects of even relatively small thefts.