World News in Brief

Priest murdered in Brazil

A murder investigation is underway in Brazil after a priest was discovered apparently stabbed to death on a roadside in Rio de Janeiro state. 

Fr Francisco Carlos Barbosa, 37, was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in the district of São Benedito in Nova Iguacu, and was last seen driving in the area. His car remains missing.

Announcing the cleric’s death, Bishop Luciano Bergamin of the Diocese of Nova Iguaçu said: “[Fr Francisco] was a good pastor and loved by his people. Everything leads us to believe that it was a robbery which ended in murder. Our brother was killed with a stab in his heart. Unfortunately it is another sign of violence that our Baixada lives, stained with so much blood.”


Islamic State threatens Kerala Christians

So-called Islamic State (ISIS) is planning to commence attacks on the Christian community in Kerala, India, it has been reported.

The danger to Kerala was exposed after police uncovered an ISIS cell in the region and, following interrogations of those arrested, learned that militants were laying plans to target Christians “of Syrian lineage”. The justification offered by the militants is that such Christians are the descendants of Christians who killed Muslims during the Crusades of the Middle Ages.

In a statement responding to the reports Kerala’s Catholic Bishops Council said: “We cannot take the threat lightly. The spread of IS militancy poses a threat to all mankind.”


Bahrain donates land for Coptic church 

King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain has agreed to donate a tract of land in the kingdom for the construction of a second Christian church. The donation will see the church rise in the capital, Manama. It will serve the needs of some 1,500 Coptic families in Bahrain and nearby Saudi Arabia.


Christian children die in Aleppo attack

A rocket attack in Aleppo on October 13 targeted the city’s Christian district and struck a school, killing four children. 

The attack on the district of Sulaymaniyah was highlighted by Msgr Georges Abou Khazen, vicar apostolic to Aleppo of the Latins as he denounced the lack of will among major powers to bring a lasting peace to Syria. 

“It’s always the same old story,” he said, “with regional and international powers not working for peace.” On this, the prelate pointed to the renewed appeal of Pope Francis for a cessation of hostilities in Syria, even one long enough to allow relief supplies to reach the bekleagured of Aleppo. 

The Pope’s words are very important because they make us feel his closeness but unfortunately these appeals fall on deaf ears.” Msgr Khazen said.

“We do not want all these deaths, this destruction, yet the tragedy continues and involves both sides of the city…everyone is suffering. Families continue to count and mourn their dead.”