Global Briefs for Oct. 12

By John Martin

Global South Meeting Halted: The Global South Conference set for Tunis, Tunisia, for Oct. 12-18 has been canceled. The decision reportedly follows advice from the Tunisian government, which has concerns about security in the area. On June 26, an Islamic terrorist attack at the tourist resort of Port El Kantaoui, 160 kilometers south of Tunis, left 38 dead, 30 of them British. Tunis stands close to the ruins of the ancient city of Carthage. Archbishop Justin Welby was expected to attend at least part of the meeting. The Global South bishops’ website says there are hopes for a rescheduled conference “in the near future.”

Midwives Community Downsizes: The Sisters of St. John the Divine, the nursing nuns who inspired the TV series Call the Midwife, have put their community house in Birmingham up for sale. Membership in the Community is down to five and the 30-bedroom house they have used for 40 years is beyond requirements. The Community of St. John the Divine was founded in 1848 and six members traveled to the Crimean War (1853-56) to help Florence Nightingale nurse wounded soldiers. They are best known for their work as midwives in the deprived areas of Poplar and Deptford in London. The community has moved on from nursing and runs a house of prayer and hospitality that receives about 1,600 visitors a year.

Former Bishop Jailed: Peter Ball, 83, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, has been jailed for 32 months for abusing 18 men ages 17-25 and misuse of public office. London’s Old Bailey was told a member of the royal household wrote a letter to the Crown Prosecution Service in support for Ball when he escaped with a caution over sex-crime allegations 20 years ago. One of his victims subsequently committed suicide. Amid claims of an establishment cover-up, Lord Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, issued a statement that he regretted allowing Ball to continue in office after the caution. Archbishop Justin Welby has commissioned an independent inquiry into the church’s handling of the affair. The Rt. Rev. Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham and the bishop in charge of safeguarding, said Ball’s behavior was “a matter of deep shame and regret.”

King James in the Cupboard: A priest has found a forgotten first-edition King James Bible dating back from 1611 while clearing a cupboard in his parish church. The Rev. Jason Bray was taking stock at St. Giles Church in the Welsh border town of Wrexham. There are believed be less than 200 first editions of the KJV in circulation. It was printed in London by Robert Barker, printers to King James I, who supervised its translation committee at Hampton Court Palace in 1604. Known as the Authorised Version, the translation owes much to the pioneering work of William Tyndale, whose translation was published nearly 100 years earlier. This English Bible is hailed by experts as playing a key role in the development of the English language.

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