Sunday, 17 February 2013

Vatican prepares to elect new Pope

Also in this week's news roundup, attacks on Shia sects continue in Pakistan and Illinois legalises gay marriage. 

Pope Benedict XVI with Russian president, Vladimir Putin

Pope’s resignation sparks successor suspense
After the shocking news this week that Pope Benedict has resigned, Cardinals in the Vatican are hoping to elect a successor before March 24th, the most important event in the Christian calendar. According to the rules of the Holy See, a 15-20 day waiting period must be observed after a papal vacancy arises, to allow travelling time for Cardinals from around the world to reach the Vatican. Some Cardinals want the date of the election of the new Pope to be brought forward so he is in place well before Easter. The new Pope will need a majority of two thirds and one vote to be elected. We wish Pope Benedict, who cited old age as his reason for resigning, a peaceful retirement.

Shia genocide in Pakistan continues
Over 70 people were killed today and another 200 injured by an explosion in a busy vegetable market in  a town on the outskirts of Quetta. The bomb was a continuation of the targeting of the Shia Muslim sect in Pakistan and victims included women and children. Emergency services were delayed in rescue attempts due to fears of a second bomb, a tactic used in a similar terrorist attack in Pakistan not long ago. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant group which seeks to enforce its own version of Islam, has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. The situation for Shia’s in Pakistan, who account for around 20 % of the population, has seriously deteriorated recently with over 400 Shias being killed in terrorist attacks in 2012.

Illinois State making Gay Marriage Legal
Gay marriage is likely to become legal in Illinois state soon, making it the 10th US state to do so. It will be the first mid-western state to pass the law. Public opinion polls have shown a shift in favour of gay marriage, particularly amongst younger voters. It also seems to have the support of every major Chicago newspaper.

Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a group whose beliefs are rejected as heretical by other Muslims, said last week: "In this era many Parliaments or legislative bodies have felt the need to pass laws that support unnatural acts that are in conflict with God’s laws of nature, whilst in other countries similar debates are taking place.

"Remember, when nature is challenged in this way then God’s own laws come into action. If God is forced to take action then His laws lead to the destruction and ruin of nations."

Guidelines for the Workplace by Equality and Human Rights Commission

The EHRC has published new guidelines for managing religion and belief in the workplace after recent European Court of Human Rights rulings. In the case of Nadia Eweida, UK courts had ruled that she had not been discriminated against when British Airways did not allow her to wear a cross at work. The EHRC found that her human rights had been breached by her employer as her rights to freedom of religious expression had been restricted. It is hoped that the new guidelines will help employers make fair decisions whilst dealing with requests from employees relating to religion or belief observance.

Celestial Chelyabinsk Intervention
Nasa has provided further details on the meteorite that hit Russia this week. The 10,000 tonne meteor exploded with a force 30 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. Unprecedented in modern times, the 55 foot wide rock injured 1200 people and thousands of buildings with many windows shattered. The search is now on for fragments of the meteor, particularly in the frozen Lake Cherbarkul. @TayyabaNoor02

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