Global Briefs for Aug. 3

Worshipers Dwindling in Antarctica: For 57 consecutive Antarctic “summers” a visiting Protestant chaplain from the U.S. military and a Roman Catholic priest from Christchurch, New Zealand, have ministered between October and February. With decline in worshipers, however, the Diocese of Christchurch has announced it will no longer send a chaplain to the aptly named Chapel of the Snows at McMurdo Station. A solitary American chaplain will serve there. Antarctica’s population is down to 1,200, a sharp fall from a decade ago, not least because the American government has cut budgets for polar research. Says Father Dan Doyle, from New Zealand, who first went to Antarctica 40 years ago, ham radio and the Internet mean that fewer people feel a need to gather for services as a way to overcome isolation.

You Can’t Take Them with You: People often take curtains, carpets, and furniture when they move house. In a growing trend, more and more U.K. citizens express a wish to take remains of dead relatives with them. The Ministry of Justice receives 25 applications weekly to exhume the remains of loved ones that cite moving house given as the main reason. Under the Burial Act 1857 human remains can be exhumed only on authority of the justice secretary or the Church of England. “The permanent burial of the physical body — or the burial of cremated remains — should be seen as a symbol of our entrusting the person to God for resurrection,” a Church of England spokesman told the Sunday Express. Treating remains as portable, he said, “suggests the opposite: a holding on to the ‘symbol’ of a human life rather than a giving back to God.”

Chinese Christians Carry Crosses: Persecution of Chinese Christians under Chairman Mao accounted for more than 500,000 deaths. Today persecution is more likely to be down to local or regional policies rather than at the instigation of the national government, which prefers to try to control rather than persecute. Recently, however, authorities in Zhejiang Province have removed more than 1,200 crosses, mainly from Roman Catholic churches. Local church leaders are responding in kind. “Each time they take down a cross, we will put up more,” one leader told the Guardian. Church leaders are urging Christian worshipers to wear crosses as both a symbol of their faith and as a protest.

Image of Chapel of the Snows by Alan Light, via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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