World News in Brief

Cardinal clarifies homily on ‘conquest’ of Europe

Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has issued a statement clarifying a homily interpreted on social media as predicting an Islamic conquest of Europe. During celebrations in Vienna on September 11 to mark the feast day of the victory of Christians over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the prelate asked if a Europe now lukewarm in faith could withstand another “Islamic conquest”.  

Following widespread coverage of the homily on social media, the cardinal insisted his words had been “misinterpreted” and that his key message was that “Europe’s Christian identity is in danger, because we Europeans have squandered it.” He said his words should not be taken as an attack on the Muslim community, or, as some had suggested, on refugees coming to Europe.

“It is clear that many Islamists would like to take advantage of our weakness,” the cardinal said, “but they are not responsible for it. We are.”


Catholic teacher shot dead

A Catholic schoolteacher has been shot dead in Indonesia. In a message from the Commission for Youth Ministry of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, it was confirmed that 27-year-old Yuni Esra Patatang had been murdered in Ilaga in Papua province. Patatang had been shot in the head by an unknown assailant.

“We are shocked and condemn the barbaric act of gratuitous violence against the innocent,” the Youth Ministry said. “Esra remains an example for young Indonesians, for his dedication to serve others with joy in a tense and difficult social situation.”

The teacher was a graduate of catechetical studies and, in addition to teaching religion at elementary schools, had established a Catholic youth group. 


Call for Iraq’s Nineveh Plain to be Christian safe haven

A US legislator has called on his country and the international community to create a safe haven for Christians in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq. 

Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska has tabled a resolution in Washington DC which calls for Nineveh to be restored as the ancestral homeland for Christians that it was before the rise of so-called Islamic State (ISIS). The Nineveh Plain is a 1,600-square-mile region of northern Iraq which is the ancient Assyrian homeland.

“Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities have been slaughtered and driven from their homes by ISIS’s horrific genocide,” Fortenberry said in introducing the resolution. “One next step must be the re-securitisation and revitalisation of the Nineveh Plain, allowing the repatriation of those who had to flee. This resolution, which follows on the government of Iraq’s own initiative to create a province in the Nineveh Plain region, seeks to restore the ancestral homeland of so many suffering communities.”

Congressman Fortenberry’s resolution has gained cross-party support and was quickly referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for further consideration.


Study finds religion contributes more to US economy than tech giants 

Religion contributes more financially to the US economy than the tech giants Apple, Facebook and Google combined, a new study has revealed. 

According to the study conducted by researchers at Georgetown University, churches, hospitals, schools, charities and even gospel musicians and halal food makers account for $378 billion to the economy every year. The figure, the researchers pointed out, does not include the increased spending prompted by the Christmas period. The largest portion of the $378 billion comes from faith-based health-care systems, of which Catholic hospitals play a major part. Church-backed medical facilities account for one in six hospital beds in the US.