Thursday, February 02, 2006

News Items of the Persecuted Church

From the (thoroughly worthwhile – free advertisement for them) pages of Compass Direct. Check them out to keep up to date on what’s happening to Christians in the rest of the world. It is easy for us in the USA to whine about our breadcrumb sufferings until we look at what goes on elsewhere.

India : Hindu Mob Stones Crowd At Catholic School Opening
A 50-strong Hindu mob attacked a new Catholic school and boarding hostel as the facility was inaugurated on Sunday (January 29) in Maharashtra state. The mob threw stones into the crowd, broke chairs and beat participants with sticks.

When church officials met with local government and police officers yesterday, they discovered that Hindu extremists had asked the police three days before the opening ceremony not to allow the school, called Suryodaya Ashram, to operate in Ghosali village.

Despite this intimation of possible violence from the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, an affiliate of the extremist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) working among tribal groups, police did not inform staff at the school and offered no protection for the event.

The school was built to provide education for tribal children.

Eritrea : Military Jails 75 Protestant Conscripts
Eritrean military authorities jailed 75 Protestant Christians yesterday at the Sawa Military Training Camp for “reading Bibles and praying during their free time,” local sources in the small East Africa nation confirmed.

Most of the newly arrested evangelicals, 37 of them women, are student youths doing their compulsory national military service at Sawa, a remote center near Eritrea’s mountainous western border with Sudan.

According to confirmed reports, the 75 young conscripts put under “military detention and punishment” had not attempted to conduct any Christian meeting at Sawa or committed any other transgression of military law.

“In Sawa, to possess your own Bible and keep your personal devotion and loyalty to Christ is not allowed,” an Eritrean Christian told Compass. “This is considered an act of Christian extremism.”

Muslim conscripts, however, are allowed to have their own copy of the Quran and perform their prayers five times a day.

Eritrea: Orthodox patriarch ‘removed’ from his post.
The government-controlled Holy Synod of the Eritrean Orthodox Church last week served formal notice to Abune Antonios that he is no longer the patriarchal head of the nation’s largest religious body.

[…] According to a report posted in the Tigrinya language on the website of the Asmarino Independent News, the synod notified Patriarch Antonios of his official discharge after “a series of hidden and closed-door meetings” held last week.

The secret sessions reportedly involved three Eritrean bishops and Yoftahe Dimetros, a layman installed by the government last August as chief administrator of the church. The three clerics were identified as Bishop Lukas, Bishop Petros and Bishop Marcos, all members of the church’s synod.

Dimetros reportedly forced some if not all the senior clergymen whose names appeared on the document to sign it.

Since last August, when the Eritrean government stripped Antonios of his ecclesiastical authority and forbid him to administrate the affairs of the church, the patriarch has remained under virtual house arrest at his residence in Asmara.

From Asmara, sources confirmed to Compass today that if the patriarch continues to challenge the government-orchestrated takeover of his church, most people expect him to be arrested soon. Rumor has it that soon afterwards, the government would try to announce its selection of a new patriarch.

The churches in India and Northeast Africa are among the oldest in the world. The Indians trace their Christian heritage back to Thomas; the Africans to Phillip's evangelization of the Ethiopian eunuch. It is truly sad to see them under such attack.