Global Briefs for March 8

Edited by John Martin

Pope Shocked by Slaughter of Nuns: Pope Francis has condemned the murder of four nuns of St. Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Yemen. Reports say the four were handcuffed in an attack that left the pope “shocked and profoundly saddened.”

The attack on March 4 took place in an old-age home in the Yemen capital of Aden. Two of the nuns were from Rwanda, one from Kenya, and one from India. The attackers entered on the pretext of visiting their mothers.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yemeni officials have blamed ISIS. A civil war between the Iran-backed Zaidi Shia Houthi and the Saudi Arabia-backed government of Yemen has torn the country apart.

The Queen and Marriage: For the first time it has been revealed that Queen Elizabeth II did not agree with same-sex marriage and expressed her frustration to a friend at the height of the debate. The sovereign said she was powerless to intervene, other than advising and warning.

The Daily Mail quotes the friend, whom it did not name, as saying: “It was the ‘marriage’ thing that she thought was wrong, because marriage ought to be sacrosanct between a man and a woman.”

The Daily Mail is reporting frequent new angles on royal stories as Queen Elizabeth prepares for her 90th birthday on April 21.

One senior former aide is reported as saying he believes it was a mistake not to lower the Buckingham Palace flag after Princess Diana’s death.

Prayer Panic: A man texting a message using the word prayer on his mobile phone found himself removed from an easyJet flight to Amsterdam.

Laolu Opebiyi, a Nigerian-born business analyst from London, told The Guardian that the passenger next to him asked, “What do you mean by prayer?”

Opebiyi tried to explain he was planning to pray with friends, but two minutes later the neighboring passenger talked to the cabin crew. Two armed officers reportedly boarded the plane, asked Opebiyi to collect his belongings, and escorted him into the terminal building.

The airline released a statement: “The safety and security of its passengers and crew is our highest priority, which means that if a security concern is raised we will always investigate it as a precautionary measure.”

Opebiyi says fears he is now on a terrorist watchlist: “I stand in uncertainty about my freedom of movement in the U.K.”

Remember the Poor: The Archbishop of York hosted an evangelism consultation March 3 at Bishopsthorpe Palace that culminated in a call not to abandon the poor.

The Rev. Malcolm Brown, director of mission and public affairs, told the consultation: “On many urban estates, social issues of generational unemployment, related poverty, lack of educational aspiration, all of which are present elsewhere, become magnified.

“The greatest thing that the church can offer is hope. However, we must rise to the challenge of making that hope visible through our actions, our words, and the priorities for the church as a whole.”

Consultation participants heard examples of effective inner-city and estates ministries, including debt advice, budgeting courses, and self-help groups.

A keynote address by the Rt. Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, drew attention to a crisis that faces the church on outer estates.

“A church that abandons the poor has abandoned God,” he said. “In order to address this crisis, we need to confront the huge gulf between the culture of the Church of England and that of the estates. We need to find ways of developing local leadership and create contextually appropriate resources.”

He added: “We need to think afresh, ‘what is the good news on the estates?’ and nail the false dichotomy between service and proclamation.”

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