Will Great Britain Persecute the Church — Again?
Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has drawn up draft regulations to accord with a European Union directive outlawing discrimination based on “sexual orientation.”
The Anglican archbishops of Canterbury and York warned that this law could lead to a “fundamental” conflict between religious freedom and the power of the state, and demanded exemptions for religious institutions.
Homosexual activist groups in the United Kingdom might be preparing to file a string of legal actions based on the new bill, the Telegraph suggested.
Spokesmen for Blair's government have said it is still too early to decide whether churches will be exempt from this law.
The Anglican bishops noted that other regulations proposed by the government would, according to the Telegraph, “bar Church organizations, charities or schools who hired Christian staff from sacking them if they became atheists or even Satanists.”
Albanian Ecumenism Can Bring Reconciliation
FIDES, March 16 — The Catholic bishops of Southeastern Europe met in mid-March in Shkoder, Albania, to discuss interreligious peace.
The bishops of Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, Romania and Turkey focused on the theme, “Ecumenism: From Tolerance to Dialogue for Collaboration.”
Archbishop Stanislaw Hocevar of Belgrade suggested Christians from these European nations — which have witnessed great violence in the past century between religious groups — must serve as “schools of reconciliation” from which all Europe can learn tolerance and mutual respect. They suggested Catholics rediscover elements proper to the Eastern Christian tradition, such as the richness of symbols, the language of art and the sense of the sacred.
One Eastern Orthodox attendee, the Metropolitan Archbishop Joan Pelushi of Albania, said ecumenism was essential for political stability in the Balkans.
Groups of Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox young people joined discussions on the need to work together to promote human rights, fight drug abuse, promote peace and build civil society.
Churches Burn in India
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 11 — Two Hindu nationalists have been charged with torching a Protestant church in southern India, the wire service reported.
In the village of Panavilai, in Tamil Nadu state, a thatch-roofed Protestant church was destroyed by fire March 9. The same day, a Hindu motorcycle gang attacked a Catholic village chapel.
Some 15 young men arrived on motorcycles and barged into St. Pio's Chapel at Devagere, near Bangalore. The men tore the priest's cassock, spat in his face, poured red powder from a Hindu shrine around the church, damaged a statue and tried to force the priest to ridicule the Pope.
It is suspected the youth gang are members of Bajrang Dal, affiliated with the Hindu nationalist party that now governs India.
A local Christian group denounced the attack: “The indigenous terrorists are only interested in sowing the seeds of hatred to divide different communities in the name of religion,” it stated.