The countries where lawyers risk death
At Christianity Today, Timothy C Morgan put in a good word for lawyers – that is, the lawyers who defend persecuted Christians around the world. David Saperstein, an Obama administration aide, said: “In the more repressive countries, these lawyers are really heroic figures. They often face harassment from authorities and persecution.”
Some of these lawyers aren’t Christian. Surprisingly enough, Asia Bibi – the Pakistani woman who has spent seven years fighting a charge of blasphemy – is represented by a Muslim attorney, Saif ul Malook.
China is even more dangerous. Since July 2015, the country has detained 300 human rights lawyers – half of whom are Christians. Some of these lawyers have been tortured with “marathon interrogations, electric batons, forced consumption of drugs, water dungeons and threats against family members”.
Although some Chinese Christian lawyers are dissidents, one, Zhang Kai, “was renowned for working within China’s legal framework”. But his Thomas More-like caution didn’t save him from being arrested and made to confess to supposed crimes on public television.
How to enter St Peter’s in style
Planning a trip to St Peter’s Basilica? You may want to consider entering on horseback. It’s permitted, said Billy Ryan at ucatholic.com, as long as you belong to one of three orders. If you are a member of the Papal Order of St Sylvester or the Papal Order of St Gregory the Great, you have two particular privileges: being able to wear a special uniform including a sabre, and being allowed to ride a horse into churches (including St Peter’s).
The privilege also extends to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, whose privileges are fairly extensive. Members are allowed to pardon prisoners on the way to the scaffold, be exempt from taxes and wear brocaded silk. That is, assuming the perks granted in 1553 are still recognised.
A refurbishment you won’t regret
At the National Catholic Register, Joseph Pronechen spoke to Catholics who appreciate altar rails. “Just by having to kneel – your posture, your body manner – it’s impossible to deny the importance of the sacrament and the truth to be found in the sacrament when you’re receiving the Eucharist,” said Paul Servideo, whose Rhode Island parish recently installed altar rails.
In Tiverton in the same state, Fr Giacomo Capoverdi has also introduced the feature. “We kneel frequently throughout the Liturgy of the Eucharist and [are] expected to kneel to show that reverence,” he said. “It seems to follow that level of reverence when we’re actually receiving the Eucharist.”
Ninety-eight per cent of his parishioners feel the same, he says – though those who prefer not to kneel are welcome to receive standing.
✣ An Irish priest who won €500,000 (£400,000) on the Euro-Millions lottery has promised to share it with the poor.
Mgr John Delaney, who is retired and lives in Florida, bought the lottery ticket while at home in Ireland over Christmas. Mgr Delaney, from Co Mayo, has won three times before, his previous winnings totalling more than £20,000.
In a statement released via the National Lottery in Ireland, he said: “I suppose you can say I am lucky. But I have
always had a policy of sharing my luck around. That is something that my late mother taught me, and something that was also drummed into me when I was a young priest by a bishop.
“This is a huge amount of money and I look forward to giving some back.”
✣ A government minister refused to move a large portrait of Cardinal Manning from his office ahead of a meeting with Protestant firebrand the Rev Ian Paisley, it emerged last week.
John Gummer, now Lord Deben, was agriculture minister at the time and was advised by a civil servant to move the picture. A diplomat, in remarks revealed in the National Archive, reported back in 1987: “Paisley sat and contemplated Manning for the hour or so that the meeting lasted.”
✣The week in quotations
Be missionaries in the cause of life Archbishop Martin to Catholics ahead of Ireland’s abortion vote Pastoral message
It is not a rebuke … but a service in charity and truth Bishop Schneider on the Kazakh bishops’ statement on Communion Catholic News Service
The year 2017 was very tragic for Venezuela Cardinal Urosa New Year’s message
Breastfeed them, don’t be afraid … This, too, is the language of love Pope Francis Baptism ceremony in the Sistine Chapel
✣Statistic of the week
500k Expected number of pilgrims at papal Mass in Santiago, Chile Source: Reuters