World News in Brief

Christian umbrella group calls for action on church collapse

The Christian Association of Nigeria, the umbrella body for Christian denominations in that country, has alleged that poor enforcement of building codes was directly responsible for the December 10 fatal church collapse. 

Investigators state that the official number of dead in the incident at the Reigners Bible Church in Uyo city stands at 31, but witnesses claim at least 100 died when the church roof fell in on a packed congregation.

In a statement in the aftermath of the structural failure the association’s secretary, Musa Asake said: “It is no more news that buildings often collapse in the country as a result of contractors using sub-standard materials coupled with lack of building approvals or a thorough supervision by the relevant agencies.

“Until severe sanctions are meted on those who are responsible, they may not be able to stop their satanic antics,” Asake added.


Death of Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns

Brazil is mourning the passing of Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, a champion of human rights during the nation’s military regime (1964-1985).

Born in Forquilhinh  in 1970, and to the College of Cardinals in 1973, he led the Sao Paolo archdiocese until his retirement in 1998. Throughout his ministry, Cardinal Arns was, in the words of his successor, Cardinal Odilo Scherer, a figure of “courageous commitment to the defence of human dignity and the inalienable rights of each person”.

The death of Cardinal Arns means there are now 227 living members of the College of Cardinals, of whom 120 are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a papal election.


Arrests in Cairo bombing investigation

Investigators working to locate the perpetrators of the December 11 bombing of St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, have arrested four suspects.

As so-called Islamic State (ISIS) claimed the suicide attack in which 25 people died and scores of others were injured, Egypt’s Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek revealed that three men and one woman had been detained under suspicion of involvement with the bombing. Two others are still being hunted. All face charges including membership of an unlawful organisation, possession of explosives and conspiracy to murder.

The suicide bomber who entered a packed St Mark’s as a Mass for Advent was taking place has now been identified as 22-year-old Mahmoud Shafiq Mustapha. CCTV captured the bomber’s face as he deliberately moved to the women’s side of the cathedral before detonating what is believed to be an explosives belt. He was previously known to security services for his links to the Muslim Brotherhood and was on a wanted list for terrorist activity. He is believed to have become involved with ISIS during a period spent in Qatar. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied any involvement in the St Mark’s attack.


Carol singers beaten in India

A group of carol singers and their parish priest in India have been attacked by a mob which accused them of carrying out forced conversions. The group, linked with the church of Ss Peter and Paul in Tikariya village, Rajasthan State, was set upon as it undertook an annual carol service in a parishioner’s home. At least 30 people armed with batons attacked the group, which included nuns, women and children. Eight of the carollers were left in need of medical assistance and were rushed to the district’s main Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, where, at the time of writing, five remained for treatment to serious injuries.