World News in Brief

Christian community under threat in the Philippines

Christians on the Filipino island of Jolo have called on Muslim leaders to help in tackling Islamic fundamentalism in the wake of attacks and threats against the community there. According to reports emerging from the island, at least one Christian has died in an attack, while Christians have been threatened by radical Muslim groups. In a message to the Fides agency, Fr Sebastiano D’Ambra of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions said “many are now living in fear in Jolo, are afraid to talk, afraid even to go to church, even if the military are in front of the cathedral in the city centre”. 

He added that Christians have abandoned their homes amid the threat of violence and many are laying plans to leave the island. Fr D’Ambra called for “all good Muslim leaders on the island to find appropriate solutions and to isolate those who commit crimes in the name of Islam”.


Twenty thousand attend funeral of Chinese prelate

Some 20,000 mourners have attended the funeral of Bishop Vincent Huang Shoucheng of Mindong, one of China’s most prominent underground Church leaders. 

Despite the normal preference of the authorities for low key funerals of religious figures, thousands lined the route of the prelate’s funeral route to Mindong’s main cathedral, where, it is estimated, at least 10,000 congregated outside in addition to a capacity 3,000 within the building. 

Those within included all priests and nuns of the diocese. 

Having endured 35 years of imprisonment and house arrest, Bishop Shoucheng was respected by many within both the underground and official Churches in China. 


Islamic State dismisses Pope’s words of peace

So-called Islamic State (ISIS) has rejected Pope Francis’ assertion that its campaign is not a religious war and accused the Pontiff of delivering a “false narrative”. Following the Pope’s comments regarding religious violence and the conflict being waged by ISIS, the terrorist group’s latest edition of Dabiq, its online magazine, carried an attack on his claim that “religions don’t want war” and insisted that its campaign “is a divinely-warranted war between the Muslim nation and the nations of disbelief. Indeed, waging jihad – spreading the rule of Allah by the sword – is an obligation found in the Koran, the word of our Lord.” The group added: “Muslims have been commanded to terrorise the disbelieving enemies of Allah.”

Meanwhile, however, other voices of Islam have publicly hailed the Pope’s words. 

In Cairo, the Al Azhar University, the seat of teaching for Sunni Islam, issued a statement which said the message offered “reflects the Pontiff’s understanding of the true nature of Islam and its teachings of tolerance”.

In Pakistan, Mufti Muhammad Naeem, a leading Sunni scholar said the Pope’s words would do much to create space for greater interreligious dialogue.