France rejects a third gender category
(WNS)–France’s highest court in early May rejected the notion of a “neutral” gender. The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision denying a French citizen with a sex development disorder the right to use “neutral” as an official gender. The Cour de Cassation, France’s supreme court, ruled that the distinction between male and female was “necessary to the social and legal organization, of which it is a cornerstone,” and that the recognition of a neutral gender would have “profound repercussions on rules of French law” and necessitate legislative changes, according to Agence France-Presse.
Nigerian president welcomes Chibok girls home
(WNS)–The Nigerian president on May 7 greeted 82 Chibok schoolgirls who were released in exchange for Boko Haram militants. The latest release marks the second time the government has negotiated with Boko Haram for some of the girls’ freedom. Several military helicopters on Saturday transported the girls from northeastern Nigeria to Abuja, the capital city. By Sunday evening, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu had listed the girls’ names on his Twitter page. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari received the girls at his official residence and commended the groups that assisted with the release. “No human being should go through this kind of ordeal,” Buhari said. “Let me reassure Nigerians, especially relatives and friends of the remaining girls, that the federal government will spare no effort to see that they and all other Nigerians who have been abducted safely regain their freedom.”
Sudanese officials bulldoze district’s last standing church
(WNS)–Authorities in Sudan demolished the last remaining church in the country’s southeast Soba Aradi district on May 7. Soba Al Aradi Church, part of the Sudan Church of Christ, was one of 27 churches fighting a government order mandating the church lands be confiscated and their buildings torn down because they were constructed on land designated for other uses. The government demolished 12 other churches in the past six years, and has prevented them from constructing new buildings.
Vatican investigates Belgian order over euthanasia support
(WNS)–A Catholic order in Belgium is facing a Vatican investigation after the group’s decision to allow euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals. Brothers of Charity, which works around the world with elderly and mentally ill patients, announced in March that it would permit doctors to perform euthanasia at its 15 psychiatric hospitals in Belgium on non-terminal psychiatric patients who request death. The Belgian chapter’s mostly lay board of directors published a nine-page explanation asserting that because “autonomy of the patient is the fundamental value in contemporary society,” the order will “fully respect the value of the patient’s autonomy by [honoring] the desire not to live with unbearable and futile suffering and to take seriously the request for euthanasia.”
What’s next for the rescued Chibok girls?
(WNS)–Nigeria’s recently rescued Chibok girls have begun a rehabilitation process away from home that could last between nine and 12 months, Nigeria’s health ministry and other aid groups confirmed. The process has previously received criticism as another lengthy detention for the girls. Eugene Kongnyuy, the deputy representative of the United Nation’s Population Fund in Nigeria, said the government handed over the girls to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and the UN agency. “An emergency team of psychosocial counselors and health professionals have been deployed to assist with the profiling of the girls,” the UN agency said in a statement. “The program is tailor-made to meet each girl’s peculiar needs of counseling to help overcome the trauma endured after being held under captivity for more than three years.”
Fines for worship, prison for Bible study in China
(WNS)–Amid increasing attempts to suppress religious activities, Chinese authorities have detained, fined, and imprisoned Christians for public worship, buying and selling devotionals, and group Bible study. In late April, a court in Xinjiang convicted five Protestants who attended a Bible study in 2016, charging them with “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order,” Asia News reported. The verdict came with five-year prison sentences for two pastors, and four- and three-year sentences for three others. They plan to appeal. Earlier in April, authorities raided a Christian concert and arrested those attending. Taiwanese Pastor Xu Rongzhang was singing “Jesus Loves You” when the raid took place, China Aid reported. Before releasing them, officials forced the Christians to say they would not organize large gatherings again and told Xu not to hold any meetings of more than 10 people.
Bishop accuses Nigeria of supporting violent extremists
(WNS)–A Catholic bishop in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state has accused the government of supplying weapons to Fulani herdsmen, whose attacks have spread across the country’s north and middle belt regions. The accusation follows several calls for the government to take action against the persisting violence. Bishop Joseph Bagobiri from Kaduna’s town of Kafanchan likened the herdsmen’s attacks to those of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Bagobiri told Aid to the Church in Need, a U.S.-based Catholic charity, some Fulanis who work in customs and internal affairs ministries supply weapons to the herdsmen.