Displaying items by tag: Europe

Friday, 27 January 2017 10:10

Problems for diocese due to Brexit

The C of E’s Diocese in Europe has begun exploring the implications that Britain’s decision to leave the EU might have on British-national clergy deployed to the continent. At present, as members of the EU, British nationals - including clergy - can travel, reside, and work in any of the other 27-member states without requiring visas or work permits. That may change when Britain leaves the EU. There are also questions about whether the reciprocal health-care arrangements for citizens of EU member states will continue to apply to British nationals once the UK completes the withdrawal process. The shape of the implications of Brexit on British citizens in Europe won’t be known until the conclusion of the negotiations on Britain’s new relationship with the EU. But the diocese has begun the process of exploring what the effects might be on its churches and their members across the continent, including a day of talks with Government minister Lord Bridges.

Published in Europe
Friday, 27 January 2017 10:04

Germany: integration of refugees

‘One of the most important issues of our time is how to integrate refugees into German society. Integration works best by involvement in everyday life - in a day-care centre or school, in learning a trade or in a place of work. Here the refugees can come into direct contact with the German language and culture and can also become familiar with the social norms and customs of our society. Integration into the job market however takes time; this might be because of lack of qualifications, or few opportunities for apprenticeships or vocational training. Many refugees remain in temporary accommodation for a long time, with no prospects for work or a more permanent place to live. The ready availability of social housing is an essential component of a successful integration plan: but a home of your own must be affordable not only for refugees but also for the low wage earners, the unemployed and pensioners. These also should not be forgotten! Much patience is often expected also from them. To ensure the keeping of peace and harmony in communities, the task of effective integration requires our constant prayer.’

Published in Europe

Efforts to free an American pastor held in a Turkish prison for his Christian faith have failed. Andrew Brunson was arrested on 8 December and charged with ‘membership in an armed terrorist organisation’. On 29 December a Turkish court denied his appeal for release. Brunson has preached the gospel in Turkey for twenty years and hoped for permanent resident status. But according to the American Centre for Law Justice (ACLJ), Brunson was arrested for unspecified reasons. In a statement, the ACLJ says ‘the charging documents do not present any evidence against him’ nor did the court specify which ‘terror’ organisation Brunson had supposedly joined. Experts say Brunson's case is part of a growing climate of intolerance against Christians and other minority faiths in Turkey.

Published in Worldwide
Saturday, 21 January 2017 19:06

Lithuania: preparing for potential Russian invasion

Lithuania has been investing in defence, introducing conscription, and rebuilding a standing army in preparation for the worst.  It may have started well before the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, but has now become a matter of urgency, with the country preparing to erect a six-foot razor-wired fence between them and Russia.  The country fears Russian aggression, two years after Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea.  With a US president who has sowed doubt in the country's NATO commitments, Lithuanians are concerned that they could see an echoing of the events of January 1991 when, in the course of three days, the Soviet Union tried to take back control of the country just one year after it declared independence.  Meanwhile, across the border, President Putin has reinforced the garrison and sent missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.  In response, Lithuania will build its fence.  In 2002, President George Bush said: "Anyone who would choose Lithuania as an enemy has also made an enemy of the United States of America," but Lithuanians are unsure if that will remain true after Donald Trump.  See also:  

Published in Europe
Friday, 20 January 2017 09:31

Scottish street evangelist acquitted

A street evangelist has been cleared after being charged with threatening and abusive behaviour for sharing his views on homosexuality. Gordon Larmour was handing out leaflets on the street in Irvine when a group of men engaged him in conversation about his faith. After he responded to a request to share his position on homosexuality, the men became angry and chased Larmour. When police officers arrived at the scene, the men told them that he had made homophobic remarks and he was arrested. The trial took place at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court earlier this week. Larmour - supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) - was found not guilty, after a judge decided there was insufficient evidence against him. Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of CLC, said: ‘This is a wonderful result for Gordon and for Christian evangelists in the UK. Freedom of speech is being consistently undermined in the UK, but here is a win for common sense.’

Published in Praise Reports
Friday, 20 January 2017 09:16

Reactions to PM’s Brexit speech

In a confident and hard-hitting speech on Tuesday, Theresa May spoke of a ‘bold’ approach to the UK’s Brexit negotiations. She said that the UK will leave the European single market, retake control of immigration, strike its own trade deals, and refuse to be bound by rulings from the European Court of Justice. She also confirmed that MPs will put the final deal to a vote in both Houses of Parliament. In reaction to her speech, which one commentator described as ‘some of the most important words she will ever utter’, the value of the pound jumped sharply as traders were reassured that a firm strategy is now in place. However, others were much more critical, with a number of European leaders accusing the PM of attempting to ‘blackmail’ the EU. Also, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that a second Scottish referendum on independence is now ‘all but inevitable’; her government has repeatedly stressed its desire to stay in the EU single market. See

Published in British Isles
Friday, 20 January 2017 09:14

Two vital court cases

Two different clients appeared in court on Wednesday, both supported by the Christian Legal Centre in seeking justice for the most vulnerable people in the UK. Nikki and Merv Kenward are challenging the recent decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to change the policy on the prosecution of medical staff who assist others in committing suicide. The Suicide Act 1961 makes it a criminal offence to assist or encourage the suicide of another person, but in 2014 the DPP amended the policy, making the prosecution of healthcare professionals in assisted suicide cases less likely. Nikki, who was once so paralysed she could only wink her right eye, and her husband campaign against euthanasia and assisted abortion. Also, pray for Aisling Hubert, who brought a private prosecution against two doctors who were filmed offering abortion on the basis of the baby's gender. But the Crown Prosecution Service took over the case and Aisling was told to pay legal costs of £47,000. For more details, see

Published in British Isles
Friday, 20 January 2017 09:08

Challenging media inaccuracies about Muslims

Miqdaad Versi, of the Muslim Council of Britain, spends his time reading every story in the media concerning Muslims and Islam - looking for inaccuracies. If he finds one, he will put in a complaint or a request for a correction with the news organisation, the press regulator Ipso, or both. Mr Versi has been doing this thoroughly since November, and before that on a more casual basis. He has so far complained more than fifty times, and the results are visible. He was personally behind eight corrections in December and another four so far this month. ‘Nobody else was doing this’, he says. ‘There have been so many inaccurate articles about Muslims overall, and they create this idea within many Muslim communities that the media is out to get them. Nobody is challenging these newspapers and saying, “That's not true”.' Some free speech campaigners are concerned that this kind of work is trying to ‘ring-fence Islam from criticism’. Mr Versi, however, insists his work is about ensuring the facts are right - not silencing critics. He says there are many examples where Muslims can be rightly criticised, and he is not complaining about those. ‘All I'm asking for is responsible reporting.’

Published in British Isles
Friday, 20 January 2017 09:06

Italy: avalanche engulfs hotel

Rescuers are still hopeful that they will find survivors after an avalanche on Wednesday left at least two people dead and dozens more buried under rubble and snow.  Teams worked through the night in the search for at least 25 people believed to be missing. The avalanche struck the remote Rigopiano hotel, in the central Abruzzo region, after multiple earthquakes in the region. Two people who were outside the hotel at the time of the avalanche survived. The earthquakes, four of which were stronger than magnitude 5, terrified residents of rural areas who were already struggling with harsh conditions after heavy snowfall buried phone lines and took out power cables. Prosecutors in Pescara, the nearest big city, opened a manslaughter investigation into the disaster, amid growing criticism of the Italian authorities’ slow response.

Published in Europe

It seems almost inevitable that there will be an election in Northern Ireland, following deputy first minister Martin McGuinness’s resignation on Monday. This was after first minister Arlene Foster refused to step aside temporarily while an inquiry took place into the controversial ‘cash for ash’ renewable heat incentive scheme, which has turned out to be much more expensive than expected. Unless Sinn Féin nominates a replacement for McGuinness, which it has refused to do, an election has to be called. It is not certain if McGuinness will be a candidate in the expected elections: he has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called hereditary ATTR amyloidosis, which affects the nervous system and the heart to varying degrees. Medical experts say the disease progresses slowly.

Published in British Isles