World News in Brief

Internet giants ordered to block gender-abortion ads in India

Three leading internet search engine companies have been ordered by India’s Supreme Court to block ads promoting sex-selective abortions.

In a move aimed at tackling India’s huge rate of abortions of females, regularly referred to as ‘gendercide’, the court order requires Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to block searches based on 22 key words, thereby denying access to abortion providers advertising sex-selective terminations. The three internet giants had been initially resistant to any such curbs, claiming that they did not have the technological capability to offer such blocks until the Supreme Court responded that if not, they should “get out of the [Indian] market”.

The internet move is a small step in tackling an issue which, while not confined solely to India, has now reached epidemic proportions there. Figures from 2011 reveal that nationally in that year there were 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under age seven – the most unbalanced gender ratios in the world.


Eight Christians killed in 24-hour period by Boko Haram

Eight Christians have been killed in a Boko Haram attack in north-eastern Nigeria

The attack, one of three attacks launched by the militant group over a 24-hour period, targeted the Christians as they walked home from a Sunday Mass service on September 18 in Kwamjilari village, near Chibok, where the group abducted over 250 girls in 2014. The attack on the worshippers was followed by an ambush on a military convoy in which six civilians died and three soldiers were injured. A later attack on the village of Tallari, also near Chibok, saw militants behead the village chief and his son before opening fire on villagers, killing two.

The series of attacks come amid an ongoing struggle within Boko Haram for the leadership of the fundamentalist Islamist group.


DRC bishops demand undertaking from Kabila

The Catholic Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo have threatened to walk out of dialogue between political groupings unless President Laurent Kabila gives a firm undertaking not to seek a third term in office.

“The current President of the Republic must clearly establish and stipulate that he will not be a candidate for the next presidential election to be organised as soon as possible,” the bishops said in laying out the pre-condition for their continued participation.

The bishops’ warning came in the wake of a serious outbreak of violence in the capital Kinshasa amid ongoing rumours that, despite his engagement with the dialogue towards a political settlement on forthcoming elections, Mr Kabila intend to hold onto the reins of power. In the first 24 hours of clashes with police, at least 50 people were killed.

In a statement the Bishops’ Conference condemned the violence and called on the Congolese people to remember “that they are not enemies but brothers, compatriots of a State that they must build together and not destroy”.


Vatican confirms appointment of Wenzhou bishop

The Vatican has confirmed that arrested Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin (pictured) has been appointed as Bishop of Wenzhou in China, replacing the late Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang.

In a move sure to upset the authorities in Beijing, the Vatican named the man least acceptable to fill the vacant bishopric. In the days before Bishop Weifang died, Bishop Zhumin was taken into police custody. Supporters believe the arrest was designed both to keep the bishop from presiding at the funeral Mass of his predecessor and to pave the way for a government-approved successor. Local authorities continue to insist that Bishop Zhumin was taken on a tour.

Despite this, and the potential harm to ongoing dialogue between Rome and Beijing, the Vatican confirmed: “In accordance with canon law, Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, coadjutor of the same diocese, succeeds the deceased prelate.”