Pope Apologizes for Church’s Persecution of Italian Christian Minority
(WNS)–Pope Francis made news last month for something other than his environmental encyclical. He offered a rare papal apology. “On the part of the Catholic Church, I ask your forgiveness, I ask it for the non-Christian and even inhuman attitudes and behavior that we have showed you,” the pope said in an address to Waldensians, in Turin, Italy, in June. Founded by Peter Waldo, a merchant from Lyon, France, in the 12th century, the Waldensians have maintained their identity in the face of severe persecution. Waldensians focused on preaching, voluntary poverty, and faithfulness to the Bible’s teaching. They translated the Bible into the language of their people (Franco-Provençal) and rejected papal teaching on purgatory and transubstantiation. Though the Third Lateran Council (1179) commanded them to stop preaching, they refused. Pope Lucius III excommunicated them in 1184. At the Reformation they joined the cause of Calvin and Luther.
UN Passes Pro-Family Resolution Without U.S. Support
(WNS)–The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution in support of the traditional family in early July. The vote—29 in support and 14 against, with four abstentions—split the council along clear lines, with a group of mostly poorer developing nations across Asia, Africa, and South America defeating the United States, all the European nations, and a few other developed countries who opposed the resolution. The resolution, co-sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Russia, reaffirms the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society and urges member states to take action to support and strengthen families. It notes that the “contribution of the family in society and in the achievement of development goals continues to be largely overlooked and underemphasized.” The resolution encourages countries to set pro-family policies that support family functions such as caring for the elderly and balancing work and parental responsibilities. China, India, Kenya, Algeria, and Vietnam also voted for the resolution. Supporters heralded the document as a “monumental development for the pro-family movement,” said Rebecca Oas of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM).
Kenyan Evangelicals Protest Upcoming Obama Visit
(WNS)–President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Kenya sent a small group of protestors to the streets. Their message to him: Don’t advocate for gay rights in Kenya. About 35 people attended the demonstration organized by The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya in Nairobi, the country’s capital. Alliance leader Bishop Mark Kariuki said at the protest homosexuality goes against the country’s moral values and sends the wrong message to youths. The event followed a statement by Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, who said same-sex couples should leave the country, as the government will never legalize gay marriage. Obama will visit Kenya later this month for the first time since he took office in 2008. He will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a platform for connecting upcoming entrepreneurs with leaders from business, international organizations, and governments.
New Myanmar Law Regulates Interfaith Marriage
(WNS)–Human rights groups are blasting a new law adopted in Myanmar, also known as Burma, requiring women to register their intent to marry outside their faith. The legislation gives the government power to halt the marriage of a Buddhist woman to a non-Buddhist man if someone raises objections to the union. “It’s shocking that Burma’s parliament has passed yet another incredibly dangerous law, this time legislating clearly discriminatory provisions targeting the rights of religious minority men and Buddhist women to marry who they wish without interference,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. Myanmar’s new marriage law is the second of a four-part series of bills known as the Protection of Race and Religion Laws, drafted by hardliner Buddhist monks with a staunch anti-Muslim agenda.