World News in Brief

Survivor group ‘plotted’ against priest – Judge

A judge in the US state of Kansas has criticised the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) for refusing to comply with a court order to reveal emails and texts relevant to allegations of abuse made against a priest. 

District Judge Carol Jackson ruled on August 22 that SNAP had plotted against Fr Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang who had previously faced two counts of alleged sexual abuse which were subsequently not pursued by prosecutors. As part of Fr Jiang’s own defamation action against his accusers, the police and the city of St Louis, SNAP was ordered to reveal its correspondence with those who had identified the priest as an abuser. SNAP refused, citing privacy and a reluctance to scare other abuse victims from coming forward.

Judge Jackson stated that “it has been established that the SNAP defendants conspired with one another and others to obtain plaintiff’s conviction on sexual abuse charges,” and the plot discriminated “against (Fr Jiang) based on his religion, religious vocation, race and national origin”.


Bishops welcome peace deal

The Catholic bishops of Colombia have issued a statement welcoming the peace accord signed on August 24 between the government and members of the FARC guerrilla group.

“We receive with hope the opportunity which opens to put an end the armed conflict which has marked the history of the country over more than five decades,” the bishops said. “We encourage all our brothers and sisters of good will to assume the challenge of overcoming the way of violence and to work together in constructing a Colombia of reconciliation and peace.”

The peace deal, signed in Havana, Cuba, and described as “final, full and definitive” by negotiators, brings to an end a conflict which claimed some 260,000 people and displaced millions more. 


Shia cleric praises Pope’s message on Islam

A leading Shia cleric in Iran has expressed thanks to Pope Francis for his message that Islam should not be equated with terrorism.

In a message to the Pope, Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi of Qom wrote: “I am really delighted to have heard your comments during your last trip to Poland in which you stated ‘Islam is not equal to terrorism’ and further dismissed the association of violence and harshness with any and all divinely-sent religions. Your wise and logical stance regarding Islam in disassociating the religion from the inhumane actions and atrocities of the Takfiri [apostate] groups such as [so-called Islamic State] is truly admirable.”

Echoing the Pope’s words, which were delivered during his return flight from World Youth Day in Poland, Ayatollah Shirazi said the “barbaric acts” of militant groups in the name of Islam “have nothing to do with divinely-sent religions and their various schools of thought”.

He concluded by stating that he offered his personal prayers for Pope Francis’ mission “in spreading kindness, peace and spirituality in the world”.