World News in Brief

Mexican police arrest suspected killer of two priests

Police in Mexico investigating the murders of two priests in the state of Veracruz have arrested a suspect. 

The arrest came as police responded to a carjacking in Mexico City and detained two individuals, one of whom was subsequently identified as a suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Frs Alejo Nabor Jimenez and Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz on September 19.

The killings of the Veracruz priests marked a sudden upswing in killings of religious figures in Mexico, already one of the most dangerous places in the world for clergy. One the same day as the Veracruz killings, another priest was murdered in Michoacán state, while four lay catechists were later found tortured and shot to death in Veracruz.

Responding to the wave of killings, and many more in recent years, Fr Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, said: “If there is no respect for priests, who are generally highly respected in Mexico, then you can imagine the rest of the population.”


Catholics mourn Islamabad bishop

Catholics in Pakistan are mourning the loss of one of their great defenders, with the passing of Bishop Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi. Bishop Anthony, who was 76, was found dead in his home on October 19, having apparently suffered a heart attack. He had just returned from a number of pastoral visits to Catholic communities across the country’s north-east.

Confirming the prelate’s passing, a spokesperson for Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Fr William Nasir told AsiaNews that the “humble” Bishop Anthony “always lived by his motto of ‘uniting all’. Thanks to him there are no more lobbies or distinct groups of priests in our diocese.”

Rufin Anthony was born in Khuspur, the largest Catholic village in Pakistan. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and was ordained as bishop in September 2009.


Christian farmers slaughtered in Nigeria

At least 40 Christians have been killed in what appears to have been a tribal attack in Nigeria. 

Fulani herdsmen are being blamed for the slaughter which took place in the predominately Christian community of Godogodo in Kaduna state on October 15, less than a month after a similar attack claimed eight Christian lives. Witnesses reported hundreds of attackers storming the village to set about people with machetes and guns before burning homes.

Christian Pastor Akut, who fled Godogodo with his family amid the attack denounced the slaughter as “a jihad, an Islamic holy war against Christians in the southern part of Kaduna state”. 

While Fulani herdsmen are mainly Muslim, conflict between them and Christian communities has in the past arisen from competition for grazing access. Pastor Akut pointed out that “our farms have been destroyed. Crops that are now ready for harvest have all been destroyed by the herdsmen. Members of our churches cannot even go to these farms, as anyone who attempts to do so is murdered by the herdsmen. Most of the villages around Godogodo have been destroyed.”


Group uncovers anti-Christian attacks in refugee camps

A Christian watchdog group has recorded over 700 cases of attacks on Christian refugees by other refugees in camps in Germany.

In a report detailing the conditions for Christians who have fled the Middle East in the hope of safety in Germany, Open Doors recorded details of 743 attacks on Christians within camps. “The documented cases confirm that the situation of Christian refugees in German refugee shelters is still unbearable,” the report states. “As a minority they are discriminated against, beaten up by and receive death threats from Muslim refugees and partly by the Muslim staff on the grounds of their religion.”


Far-right leader proposes universal ban on religious symbols

The leader of France’s far-right National Front Party has vowed to ban all public displays of religion in the country if she is elected as president. 

During an interview with French television on her hopes for the presidential elections set for next year, Marine Le Pen said an extension of existing laws on religious displays would be needed to curb radicalisation. In the name of equality, she added, this would mean a ban on Christian and Jewish symbols of faith.