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Around the Traps

President of Palestine meets pope

VATICAN (SE): The president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, met with Pope Francis on January 14 when in Rome for the opening of a new Palestinian embassy to the Holy See.

Abbas also met with Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the secretary for relations with states.

The parties discussed the recent agreement between the Holy See and Palestine on Church activities in Palestinian territory, as well as peace in the Middle East.


Nigeria bombs refugee camp

LAGOS (SE): A Nigerian air force jet bombed a camp for displaced people near Rann in the northeast of the country, killing up to 100 people and injuring dozens more.

Aid workers are among the dead. The Red Cross says six of its employees were killed.

It was reported that at least 120 injured people are being treated and an appeal was put out for help with medical evacuations.

The president, Muhammadu Buhari, expressed dismay and urged calm. For the first time on record, the air force apologised claiming the site was mistaken for a Boko Haram camp


South Korean murdered in Manila police camp

MANILA (SE): An executive of a South Korean company was abducted in Manila by the Philippine police under the guise of the latest war declared on drugs by the president, Rodrigo Duterte.

He was later murdered inside police headquarters at Camp Crame. He was strangled. Duterte has promised there will be no whitewash in the investigation.


No ghettos please

MOSUL (SE): The Syriac Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Archbishop Youhanna Moshe, says Iraqi Christians wish to live in harmony with others in the country and not be confined to a Christian humanitarian corridor.

Croix reported the bishop as saying, “We don’t want to live in a ghetto. That is counterproductive. That makes us a target for our enemies… We need an integrated reality, rather than a Gaza where there’s a wall and someone is guarding people going in and out.”


No habits in classroom

OMAHA (SE): Sister Madeleine Miller has been told that she cannot wear her habit while teaching in a public secondary school in the United States of America.

Sister Miller was hired by the state as a teacher in Nebraska, but was informed that she would not be allowed to wear her habit in the classroom. The decision is based on an old law enacted in 1919, which bars distinctive religious dress in schools.

A move is now underway to repeal the law.


Papal rating up in United States

WASHINGTON (SE): Pope Francis has maintained his high approval rating among Americans, a new Pew Research poll shows.

The survey found that 70 per cent of all respondents give the pope a favourable rating, with only 19 per cent viewing him unfavourably. This is up from March 2013 at the start of his pontificate, when 57 per cent gave him a tick.

Among Catholics he does even better, with 87 per cent ticking the favourable box.


Pushups on the altar

SAARBRÜCKEN (SE): An artist was fined after doing 27 pushups on the altar in St. John’s Basilica in Saarbrücken, Germany, and then posting a video of the stunt online.

Thirty-eight-year-old Alexander Karle can be seen straddling the communion rail before climbing onto the altar with his shoes on. He briefly brushed off the altar before leaving.

He said that he wanted “to study the links between religion and the need to conform to the high standards of the time. He was fined 1,500 ($12,508) for disturbing religious activities and entering a Church domain closed to the public.


Vatican stamps Luther’s memory

VATICAN (SE): The Vatican will put a stamp on the memory of Martin Luther when it issues a postage stamp in his honour later this year to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The Vatican regularly issues stamps to mark special occasions and honour individuals. In the past, stamps have been issued in honour of non-Catholics, but never for their religious leadership.

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