Tag: Church

Cairo bishop urges Church to be ready for martyrdom

by Jayson Casper

A senior Anglican archbishop from the Global South called for the Church to be “ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Christ” in the face of persecution, restrictions, terrorism, and violence carried out in the name of religion

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Archbishop Mouneer Anis. Michael Adel, Bridges Cultural Cente

Archbishop Mouneer Anis of Cairo was addressing archbishops and bishops from some of the most difficult places in the world in which to practise the Christian faith: Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Southern Africa, West Africa, Indian Ocean, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South East Asia.

More than 100 delegates also discussed the importance of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue. Guests at the opening session included representatives of the Vatican, Coptic Orthodox Church and Al Azhar University in Cairo, the seat of Sunni learning.

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Al Azhar representative Saeed Amer. Michael Adel, Bridges Cultural Center.

The leaders of the Anglican Communion’s Global South (the world’s third largest Christian denomination, after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches) – which is home to 72 per cent of the worldwide Anglican population, or about 62 million people – discussed critical challenges facing them, including poverty, the refugee crisis and religious violence.

Archbishop Anis said the Church in the Global South had many challenges and weaknesses, and highlighted the prevalence of disease and “polygamy, tribalism, corruption, and harsh treatment of women”, as well as “false teaching” of the prosperity gospel, and the teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.

He also warned of an “ideological slavery” resulting from “some Western churches and organisations using their wealth and influence to push their own agendas in the Global South”. He continued: “We need to be aware of this, and resist all kinds of slavery, whether financial or ideological”, or else face “cultural defeat and captivity”.

While the archbishop and other speakers stressed fidelity to the teachings of Christ and criticised provinces they accused of departing from them, Anis added: “We cannot continue to focus on the faults of others while neglecting the needs of our own people.”

A former Bishop of North Africa, Bill Musk, noted that North African Christians were persecuted in the early centuries of Christianity as they are now, and said unity was vital to withstand such challenges. A communiqué from the talks reported: “The Arab invasions eventually overwhelmed the Church [in North Africa], but the seeds of its demise were sown long before.”

Bishop Emeritus Musk also praised the fifth-century Council of Carthage, which took place in what is now Tunisia, at which it was decided that no diocese had the right to discipline leaders in another, despite a deep cultural divide within the Church. Bishop Musk described the Church at that time as being riven between a Latin elite that advocated a compassionate response to Christians who denied their faith under persecution, and local Berbers, who insisted upon faithfulness to Christianity until death.

Speakers at the conference emphasised the Church’s North African heritage, challenging the view of the Church as a foreign imposition foisted on Europe’s former colonies. American Canon Dr. Ashley Null, highlighted the “deep dependence” of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, one of the architects of Anglicanism, on St. Augustine, whose bishopric of Hippo lies in modern-day Algeria.

Dr. Null, who is writing a five-volume study of the private theological notebooks of Archbishop Cranmer, noted that “in his day, Augustine was derided as the son of a Berber who spoke Latin with an African accent”.

On the second day of the conference, the bishops had a 90-minute audience with President Fatah Al-Sisi, who told them Egypt was keen to guarantee freedom of belief and worship for all its citizens. Egypt’s Coptic Christians have complained of targeted attacks worsening again this year.

(Bishops from North America and Australia joined the six-day conference (3-8 Oct.) in the Egyptian capital. Four bishops from the UK, including the Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, were there as guests, with the knowledge of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby).

Source:World Watch Monitor



Gojra: Muslims doing kindness to Christians as they join hands to build a church in a Muslim majority village

Muslims join forces with Christians in a village of Gojra, and help build a church. Together they have managed to erect boundary walls of the church. In a spectacular display of brotherhood, the villagers are constructing first ever church in the village. “Our mosque stands here from times past, but our Christian brothers also have the right to worship in their church,’ says a local Muslim villager Ijaz Farooq.

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“We have a place to worship, but, Christians do not have one,” Ijaz Farooq said. In the midst of escalating situation of religious extremism and intolerance in the country, such communities also exist where Christians and Muslims live in harmony.

Locals of the village, which is nigh Gojra, a town in Punjab province. What is more, the Muslim villagers are also contributing in the funds for the construction of the church. Thus far, Christians and Muslims have managed to collect about fifty thousand Pakistani rupees for the construction of the church.

Continuing with same zeal and passion, Christians and Muslims endeavoring to realize their dream of Saint Joseph’ Church. The Muslim majority village is home to eight Christian families. Strikingly, Christians and Muslims live together as they seem to know not the concept of religious discrimination.

“As far as I can remember, we have been living together, we partake in each other’s happiness, sorrows and religious festivals,” says one Christian villager Faryal Masih. He went on to pray,” May the Lord protects, everyone of incidents like the one in Gojra,” he added, “However, we are rest assured that our Muslim neighbors will stand by our side in times of trouble.”

Source: Christians in Pakistan



Northern Nigeria: The impact of persistent violence on the Church

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A report has just been published by Open Doors and the Christian Association of Nigeria entitled, ‘Crushed but not defeated. The impact of persistent violence on the Church in Northern Nigeria.

It makes for disturbing reading. The Christians in this country have been increasingly targeted by violence and need our prayers. Below is a summary:

1. Christians in Northern Nigeria face violence from different sides;

2. A minimum of 9,000-11,500 Christians have been killed;

3. 1.3 million Christians have become internally displaced or forced to relocate elsewhere, since 2000;

4. Many churches have seen a steep decline in their memberships, 13,000 churches have been closed or destroyed
altogether;

5. Thousands of Christian businesses, houses and other property have been destroyed;

6. Distrust and fear of Christians towards Muslims have hugely increased, leading to more segregation;

7. Christians in Northern Nigeria frequently face marginalization and discrimination, especially in the Sharia states in
the Far North, but also in the Middle Belt states;

8. Participation in church activities as well as the private life of Christians have been severely affected. There has been
a steep decline due to insecurity and migration, but there is also an increased commitment amongst the Christians
that have stayed behind;

9. All over Northern Nigeria, the impact of persistent violence on Christian communities is enormous (decrease in
numbers, traumatization, being overwhelmed by the influx of displaced and relocating Christian, loss of property
and lack of resources);

10. Christians in Northern Nigeria have reported an increased experience of connection with God and His presence;

11. To adopt the Christian attitude of ‘love your enemies’ is seen as a real challenge by Christians;

12. Christians affected by targeted violence have been left severely traumatized