World News in Brief

Relief at safe return of kidnapped Mexican cleric

The Bishop of the Mexican Diocese of Andres Tuxtla, Veracruz, has expressed his relief and gratitude for the safe return of Fr José Luis Sánchez Ruiz of Catemaco, who was kidnapped on November 11. 

In a statement following the priest’s release three days after his disappearance, Bishop Fidencio Lopez Plaza gave thanks for the “heartfelt sympathy and prayers of all the faithful, as well as the Mexican Episcopal Conference, and in particular the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Veracruz”. He added that the Catholic community awaits the outcome of the investigation into the circumstances of Fr Ruiz’s abduction.

The disappearance of the campaigning priest led to violent demonstrations in Catemaco and demands for police to treat the incident more seriously than they had at first. Fr Ruiz had received threats in the days before his abduction, allegedly linked with his outspokenness on corruption and high electricity pricing in Catemaco, leading to fears that he would become the third priest to be murdered in Veracruz since September. Fr Ruiz is now recovering having been tortured by his captors.


Spanish desecration case challenged

Lawyers in Spain are to challenge a court’s dismissal of a case involving the theft of consecrated hosts for an exhibition insulting to Catholicism. Artist Abel Azcona had been charged  in relation to the procurement of 240 hosts during Masses in Madrid and Pamplona which he was later photographed with, posing naked as he used them to spell out the word ‘pederasty’.

The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers has now announced that it is to file an appeal and, if necessary, “go to the highest court necessary in the face of what is becoming a campaign of serious offences against the Christian faith and religious freedom”. 

Azcona’s exhibition resulted in a petition of 110,000 signatures demanding that authorities in Pamplona shut it down. 


South Korean bishops call for president’s resignation

Catholic bishops in South Korea are calling on President Park Geun-hye to step aside as a major corruption scandal engulfs her administration.

Following revelations that a close friend of the president, Choi Soon-sil, was enabled to influence government decisions from behind the scenes, Auxiliary Bishop Simon Ok Hyun-jin of Kwangju called on Ms Park to quit the presidency and led a 1,000-strong demonstration from his church.

The prelate’s action was subsequently followed by calls for the president’s resignation from Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho of Jeonju and Auxiliary Bishop Augustine Kim Jong-su of Daejeon.

The Church leaders are merely the most high profile voices raised against Ms Park, who has attempted to diffuse the situation by sacking close aides, but to no avail. 

Priests and Church groups have added their voices to others in civil society insisting that only Ms Park’s departure can restore faith in the democratic system in the country.

President Park is now set to face a full investigation into her conduct.


Nigeria to gain Catholic television broadcaster

The Catholic Church in Nigeria will launch a 24-hour television service in 2017. 

According to Fr Patric Alumuku, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Abuja, money raised from a special fundraising dinner in mid-November will go towards the plan for the Catholic Television Service (CTV) which will include satellite transmissions.

“Contributions to the growth of CTV will enable the realisation of a Catholic Channel and a consequent 24-hour broadcast with purpose for evangelism and development of the society.”