SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
John Pontifex

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December 28, 2020
Aid to the Church in Need has been following closely the case of Maira Shahbaz, a 14-year-old Catholic girl from Madina Town, near Faisalabad.
January 16, 2020
When Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq’s Christians had good reason to be afraid. Although they were not implicated in the political fall-out which followed, they quickly began to realise that, were the security situation to remain destabilised, it could have fatal consequences for the survival of
December 19, 2019
The leader of Iraq’s largest Christian community has scrapped Christmas parties, trees, receptions and other festivities “out of respect” for the victims of violent protests which have rocked the country. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Babylon (Baghdad) said that cancelling the Christmas celebrations was a necessary act of “solidarity” with families affected
November 21, 2019
Violence this month in Syria has raised the spectre of renewed Islamist persecution against Christians, especially in the north-east of the country. Armenian Catholic Fr Hovsep Bedoyan and his father Abraham were shot dead in an ambush in the province of Deir Ezzor. A deacon, Fati Sano, was also injured. The group were travelling to the province to view
November 04, 2019
A shrine has opened in London displaying sacred liturgical items desecrated by extremists in Iraq. The 10 objects – including chalices, crucifixes and a statue – many of them bent and broken, were formally blessed at a ceremony on November 3, at Farm Street Catholic Church, where the shrine has been erected. The sacred items
October 24, 2019
When an elderly Christian woman in a village in India’s Tamil Nadu state was beaten by extremists, her attackers defended their actions by saying that she had defiled the road by walking on it during a Hindu festival. A dozen Christians who tried to rescue her were also injured when the extremists threw stones at
June 06, 2019
Mgr Nizar Semaan lost his family home to ISIS. Now, as Archbishop of Mosul, he must rebuild a community
May 23, 2019
An Iraqi Church leader has met Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and called on the Government to provide urgent help to prevent persecuted minority faith groups from dying out in their ancient homelands. At meetings in London on Tuesday, Catholic Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil appealed to the UK Government to provide direct
May 16, 2019
“Because of cases in which people are falsely accused of blasphemy, the whole of Pakistani society is suffering. Many people would say we are fed up with this situation.” These comments from Archbishop Joseph Arshad, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference of Pakistan, make no bones about the heartache caused when Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws
February 07, 2019
Asia Bibi has, at long last, triumphed in her search for justice. When the Supreme Court of Pakistan last week threw out a challenge against its decision to acquit the Christian farm labourer, it marked the end of almost 10 years of legal proceedings, eight of which Asia spent on death row. At the time
November 08, 2018
As extremists take to the streets, the Asia Bibi saga highlights a debate over the country's future
November 08, 2018
It was an unforgettable moment when I was woken at 5am by a phone call to say that Asia Bibi had been acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. For more than eight years, the Catholic woman from Pakistan’s Punjab Province had languished in jail after being found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. But now,
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