News Briefs

Debris seen inside damaged church in Syria. (CNS photo/Khaled al-Ha riri, Reuters)

In April the sultanate of Brunei became the first East Asian country to introduce the criminal component of Shariah law at the national level, raising concerns among Buddhist and Christian minorities. • Palestinian Christians welcomed the agreement between rival political factions Fatah and Hamas to form a national unity government. “The division among Palestinians was a factor that weakened the peace process,” according to the Rev. Raed Abusahlia, general director of Caritas Jerusalem. • The European Union border agency reports that over half of the immigrants who entered Europe illegally in 2013 made the final perilous border crossing by way of the sea. • Eight countries, including Syria, Pakistan and Egypt, should be added to the State Department’s list of the worst religious freedom offenders, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. • In response to Pope Francis’ call “to go to the outskirts of existence,” Sister Maria Nazareth of Argentina is preparing to go to the war-torn city of Aleppo. • Christians fear that the demolition of a massive church in Wenzhou, a Chinese coastal city known as the “Jerusalem of the East,” may signal an intensified campaign against religious organizations by local Communist authorities.

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