Media Watch

Catholic and Protestant Leaders Take Helm in Belfast

BELFAST NEWS-LETTER, Nov. 7 — Moderate leaders David Trimble, of the Protestant Ulster Unionist Party, and Mark Dur-kan, of the Catholic Social Democratic and Labor Party, were elected First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland's unity government, the Belfast daily reported.

The pair got the necessary support from Unionists and Nationalists after three members of the Alliance Party, which represents Catholics and Protestants, were allowed a temporary re-designation as Unionists. They received more than 70% support in the Northern Ireland Assembly, including unanimous support from the Catholic side of the house.

Bin Laden Calls Conflict a ‘Christian Crusade’

THE NEW YORK POST, Nov. 2 — Osama bin Laden has called upon Pakistanis to defend Islam against what he sees as a Christian crusade, the New York daily reported.

“Muslims in Afghanistan are being subjected to killing, and the Pakistani government is standing beneath the Christian banner,” the letter said. “The world is split into two. Part of it is under the head of infidels Bush [sic], and the other half under the banner of Islam. The Pakistani government has stood under the banner of the cross. Adherents to Islam, this is your day to make Islam victorious.”

The letter was dated Nov. 1, four days after an attack on a Catholic church in Pakistan left 16 people dead.

First British Cathedral Closure Since Reformation Eyed

SUNDAY TIMES, Nov. 4 — Good Shepherd Cathedral in Ayr, Scotland, the seat of the Diocese of Galloway, may become the first Catholic cathedral to close in Britain since the Reformation more than 400 years ago, the London newspaper reported.

A dwindling congregation and soaring repair costs have led Bishop Maurice Taylor of Galloway to petition Rome for permission to close the church, which was consecrated in 1957. If the Vatican approves, St. Joseph's Church in Kilmarnock may become the new cathedral of Galloway.

The diocese, at 1,600 years old, is Britain's oldest, but its Catholic population is falling 1% a year.

Chinese ‘Christian’ Sect Spreading to United States

TIME ASIA, Nov. 5 — A Catholic bishop and other Christian leaders in China have warned their congregations about Lightning from the East, a fast-spreading sect that believes Jesus has returned in the form of a Chinese woman who has written a third Testament. The movement claims some 300,000 adherents in China, and followers have begun handing out leaflets in Chinatowns in New York and San Francisco, the newsweekly reported.

The sect has been one of the subjects of a two-year police campaign against “evil cults,” including Falun Gong. Lightning from the East targets ill-formed Christians with aggressive apologetics and warns of an imminent apocalypse, Time reported.

Last year, a man claiming to be Lightning's coordinator for north China met with a senior aid to a Catholic bishop in Hebei province to try to convert the Catholic leadership there. He failed, and the bishop has warned priests to remain vigilant against the sect.