Christian pastor and pregnant wife killed in Nigeria | SW News | 126

Boko Haram attack on village leaves 81 people dead
The Islamic militant group Boko Haram is thought to be responsible for an attack upon a Nigerian village that has left at least 81 people dead. The fatal raid upon the village of Faduma Kolomdi, in the north eastern state of Borno, took place on Tuesday morning.

Protestant pastor and wife gunned down by militants
Meanwhile, last week saw a protestant pastor and his wife also become victims of anti-Christian violence in Nigeria. The Reverend Emmanuel Saba Bileya and his wife, Juliana, who is thought to have been pregnant, were gunned down on Monday June 1 while working on their farm in the Taraba State in north-east Nigeria.

The Vatican has announced that there will be no outdoor Eucharistic procession during this Sunday’s celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi. That’s due, they say, to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, Pope Francis will lead solemn benediction of the Blessed Sacrament within St. Peter’s Basilica following Sunday Mass.

Bishop Egan: Proposed abortion laws “fundamentally detestable”
The Bishop of Portsmouth in England is urging both Catholics and all people of goodwill on the Channel Island of Guernsey to take a stand against proposed new abortion laws which he describes as “fundamentally detestable”. The new laws would seek to raise the time limit for abortion on Guernsey from 12 weeks to 24 weeks.

Pope Francis creates new COVID-19 recovery fund
Pope Francis has established a new charitable fund to help those within the Diocese of Rome who are facing financial hardship or have lost their job due to the Covid-19 crisis. Entitled the “Jesus the Divine Worker Fund” it will initially have an endowment of one million Euros.

Primate of All Ireland welcomes return of public Masses
The Primate of All Ireland is welcoming the news that churches are to reopen in the Republic of Ireland later this month. Following a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Irish Prime Minister or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has announced that places of worship can re-open on June 29th.

The Diocese of Beaumont gets a new bishop
The Diocese of Beaumont in Texas has a new bishop. He’s Monsignor David Toups who is current the rector of the St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Florida’s Boynton Beach. He’ll succeed Bishop Curtis Guillory who has served as bishop of Beaumont for the past 20 years. 49-year-old Monsignor Toups grew up in Louisiana.

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‘Himas rehas ka ngayon’: PUP students get threats from Facebook accounts using their names | ABS-CBN News

MANILA — At least 2 Polytechnic University of the Philippines students reported Sunday that they received threats from accounts using their names on Facebook.

Many Facebook users have sought help from their friends on the platform to report dummy accounts using their names. This came after several people were detained in Manila and Cebu for protesting the anti-terrorism bill.

 
The Communicator, a student publication of the PUP – College of Communication, reported that a student in the college received a threat, which reads: “Ano sabi mo dati? Oust Duterte? Junk Terror Bill? Online protest ka pa ah himas rehas ka ngayon.”

“What did you say before? Oust Duterte? Junk Terror Bill? You dare mount an online protest, you’ll caress bars now.”

“Mae,” not her real name, told ABS-CBN News that she received a message — which The Communicator reported — from a dummy account bearing her name at around 3:37 p.m. on Sunday and immediately reported it. 

She later found out that the account was deactivated and the message deleted.

Mae said she signed an online petition to scrap the controversial anti-terrorism bill and used political hashtags on her social media accounts like #JunkTerrorBill, #JunkTerrorBillNow, #MassTestingNowPH, and #OustDuterte.

“Honestly, natawa ako sa kung gaano ka-low itong atake ng mga trolls sa mga kritiko ng gobyerno,” she said. 

(I was amused at how low the troll attacks against government critics have gotten.) 

“At the same time, may kaonting takot din para sa privacy ko pati ng mga tao sa paligid ko, gayon din po sa mga kaibigan at kakilala kong nagkaroon din ng mga fake accounts sa Facebook.” 

(There’s a bit of fear for my privacy and that of the people around me, my friends and acquaintances who were also the victims of fake Facebook accounts.) 

Meanwhile, PUP’s official paper The Catalyst also reported a similar threat.

In the publication’s post containing screenshots of messages from supposed fake accounts, it can be read that the student was red-tagged and called a “terrorist.” 

“Kahit ano gawin niyo lahat di kami matatalo mga wala kayong kwenta,” one of the messages declared. “Hintayin niyo kame sa June 12.”

(Whatever you do, we won’t be defeated, you’re useless. Wait for us on June 12.)

June 12 marks Independence Day, a national holiday. 

Critics and human rights advocates have said that the anti-terrorism bill approved by Congress can be abused to clamp down on dissent and arbitrarily arrest anti-government protesters.

The Department of Justice has ordered an investigation into the surge of suspicious accounts on the social media giant.

Responding to the rise of fake accounts on the social media site, Facebook said that they are now investigating “reports of suspicious activity on our platform and taking action on any accounts that we find to be in violation of our policies.”

“We encourage people to continue reporting any accounts they believe may be inauthentic,” it added.

Facebook had said its artificial intelligence (AI) detects most fake accounts and disables them before they can post on the platform.

— With a report from Agence France-Presse 

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Pagan Idols Set Up in English Martyrs Church

Alan Williams

BRENTWOOD, England (ChurchMilitant.com) – A Catholic church in England is facing backlash for displaying Hindu, Buddhist and African idols in front of the altar for a service marking Pope Francis’ pan-religious day of prayer.

On Thursday morning, the diocese of Brentwood tweeted a picture of the idols of Shiva and Buddha, alongside an icon of Jesus the Good Shepherd and an African carving advertising an “interfaith prayer service” to be held at the Church of the English Martyrs, Hornchurch, at 7 p.m.

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Fr. Britto Belevendran, pastor of English Martyrs, Hornchurch

“Pope Francis has appealed for a Day of Prayer and Fasting and Works of Charity for believers of all religions on 14 May, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic,” the diocesan website announced.

“In response to this appeal, Fr. Britto Belevendran, chair of the Interfaith Committee, will be leading an interfaith prayer service at 7 p.m. on Thursday 14 May (live streaming).”

“He says: ‘I invite the parishes and friends of other faiths to come together to pray for the healing of the globe and our fragile humanity from the present pandemic,” it continued. “Please join in in whatever ways you can.'”

Within minutes, hundreds of outraged Catholics bombarded the diocese’s Twitter thread accusing Fr. Belevendran of idolatry, syncretism, sacrilege and the heresy of indifferentism.

Catholic commenters hit out at the parish priest: “Shame on you.” “Willfully breaking the first commandment.” “Repent!!! You will suffer hellfire for this!” “This is sacrilege, and I will be contacting your diocesan chancellor.”

Not a single comment was positive or in favor of the interfaith service. 

Within less than an hour of Church Militant contacting the priest for comment, the tweet with the photograph of the idols was deleted. 

“It is ironic that this happened in a church named in honour of the English martyrs whose feast day was only celebrated a week ago,” Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow told Church Militant.  

“These priests, religious, laymen and women gave their lives so that Catholicism could be preserved. While it may have been motivated by good intentions, this act of blasphemy nonetheless spits upon their selfless sacrifice,” she lamented. 

The U.K. campaign director for CitizenGO told Church Militant she is running a campaign attempting to persuade the government to reopen churches: “But you have to wonder that if idol worship is what they are going to be used for, perhaps it’s better they remain closed.”

Farrow added:

You have to wonder what on earth the parish priest was thinking of allowing a 10-armed pagan idol to sit atop an altar. Worse still, that whoever was running the diocesan Twitter account appeared to agree and endorse this act of sacrilege. The bishop needs to be alert to the spiritual dangers of this, all of those involved need a course on remedial Catholicism and some serious reparation needs to be made. 

An Indian convert to Catholicism told Church Militant she was heartbroken by the idolatry: “My ancestors worshipped these idols and I am grateful to the Catholic missionaries who came and preached the Gospel to my ancestors, delivering us from worshipping such grotesque images of wood and stone.”

It is ironic that this happened in a church named in honour of the English martyrs whose feast day was only celebrated a week ago.

“Father Belevendran says he is from India,” she said. “Doesn’t he know how the caste system of Hinduism oppressed us for 3,000 years and only Christianity liberated us? Doesn’t he know the idol he placed on the altar is that of Shiva — the Hindu god of destruction?”

“Is the Bishop of Brentwood so racist that he believes Catholicism is only for white English people and not for brown-skinned Indians like me and so I need to go back to Hinduism?” she asked. “The image of Shiva as Nataraja on the altar conveys the Indian conception of the never-ending cycle of time, which is completely contrary to the biblical linear concept of time.”

Image
Bishop of Brentwood Alan Williams

Church Militant wrote a second time to Fr. Belevendran asking why the post with the picture of idols was suddenly pulled from the diocesan Twitter feed, asking him why he chose to reject the uniqueness of Jesus, the Son of God, and “install a statue of Shiva (Nataraja) the god of destruction on a table before the altar.” As of press time, Church Militant received no response. 

Brentwood diocese under Bp. Alan Williams is continuing to promote Pope Francis’ pan-religious day of prayer. Another tweet invites Catholics to join in Holy Mass “in response to Pope Francis’ call for interfaith Day of Prayer.”

Meanwhile, following Church Militant’s report on Catholics condemning the pontiff’s day of prayer as “blasphemy” and “sacrilege,” the pontiff has responded asserting that he is not promoting “religious relativism” but human fraternity.   

“Perhaps there will be someone who will say: ‘This is religious relativism and it cannot be done.’ But how can we not pray to the Father of all?” Francis asked in the Santa Marta chapel on Thursday.

“Everyone prays as he knows, how he can, as he has received from his own culture. We are not praying against each other, this religious tradition against this, no,” the pontiff added. “We are all united as human beings, as brothers, praying to God, according to our culture, according to our own tradition, according to our beliefs, but brothers and praying to God. This is the important thing.”

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