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Probation for parish treasurer guilty of stealing £60,000: Church of England Newspaper, May 23, 2014 June 3, 2014

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The treasurer of a Londonderry parish has been given a suspended sentence after having pled guilty to 19 counts of theft. On 30 April 2014 the Londonderry Crown Court handed down an 18 month sentence suspended for three years to Lyndsey Bredin (27) who pled guilty 19 counts of theft from Christ Church, Culmore, Muff and St Peter’s in the city. Bredin admitted to stealing the funds between March 2010 and October 2011. A statement from the Diocese of Derry & Raphoe reported that the judge told the Bredin, “It is extremely disappointing that not a penny has been repaid,” and noted the “offending has adversely affected the financial future of the churches for a very long time into the future.”  A spokesman for the parish said, “the theft has been traumatic and painful for church members and we are continuing to work together to face both the financial loss and pastoral consequences of our former treasurer’s breach of trust. Jesus’ call to forgive and pray for those who have wronged us is difficult and challenging. We can only continue to pray for the strength to behave, as God would have us,” adding that “we look forward to reading the judge’s full ruling to understand the appropriateness of a suspended sentence for a theft of some £60,000.”

Court orders police to finish church fraud investigation: The Church of England Newspaper, May 16, 2014 June 2, 2014

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The Bombay High Court has directed police to complete their fraud investigation of four Church of North India Bishops accused of selling church lands for their personal profit. In an order handed down last Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai complained that the initial complaint had been filed in 2008 and that it was “high time” for the “investigation officer completes the probe.” In 2012 the former Bishop in Pune, the Rt Rev Vijay Sathe was arrested on charges of fraud, forgery and breach of trust for allegedly seeking to sell the Afghan Memorial Church in Bombay to property developers and pocketing the proceeds. The former bishops of Bombay, Pune and Gujarat were also ordered arrested by the court. All have since been released on bail. In a report dated 18 April 2009, VR Patil, the Maharashtra State law and judiciary department’s legal adviser, found that a “bogus” corporation entitled the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association Private Limited had been created to “grab the properties of genuine Christian trusts” — the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association Limited (BDTA) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) in the Diocese of Bombay. “The bogus trustees indulged in many illegal activities to grab the property of BDTA Ltd and SPG by taking advantage of the similarity in the name of the bogus trust with the complainant’s trust,” the Patil report said. In 2004 the fake trust sought to redevelop the Afghan Memorial Church – a former Church of Scotland church built to honour the dead of the First Afghan War – prompting lay members of the congregation to go to the police.

Archdeacon sued for fraud: The Church of England Newspaper, May 9, 2014 June 2, 2014

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The Diocese of Brandon in the Anglican Church of Canada last month filed suit against its former archdeacon seeking to recover C$350,000 embezzled by the Ven. Noah Njegovan, (30). In May 2013 Mr. Njegovan was arrested on charges of having committed a fraud while serving as executive archdeacon of the diocese and assistant to his father, Bishop James Njegovan. Prosecutors allege that between March and September 2012 Mr. Njegovan used a diocesan credit card and made online transfers of funds sent by congregations to the diocese for his personal use. In his address to the October 2012 meeting diocesan Synod Bishop Njegovan stated that his son had resigned in September 2012 as executive archdeacon and was moving to Winnipeg to pursue other opportunities. A forensic audit of diocesan accounts uncovered the fraud in December 2012, which led to the archdeacon’s arrest.

Archbishop’s kidnappers arraigned: The Church of England Newspaper, May 2, 2014 June 2, 2014

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Three men have been arraigned before a magistrate in Port Harcourt, charged with 17 counts of kidnapping, including the number two man in theChurch of Nigeria. In a statement released by the Department of State Security (DSS) Chibueze Nwaogba, Onyedikachi Emmanuel Okoro and Philip Chikaodiri Ogbuewu were charged with the Sept 2013 abduction of the Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey, Bishop of Niger Delta North, Archbishop of the Province of the Niger Delta and Dean of the Church of Nigeria and 20 other victims. The Niger Delta State Director of the DSS, Mr. Apok Nyam, said on 17 April 2014 the three have been bound over for trial and will appear before the courts on 1 September 2014. On 6 Sept 2013 while driving to Port Harcourt to attend a meeting of the Church of Nigeria’s Standing Committee, the archbishop’s car was stopped at a roadblock. The gang seized the archbishop and held him for a week.  The complaint filed against the gang said a ransom of N10 million (£35,000) was paid to the kidnappers for the release of the archbishop.

Akinola kidnapped: The Church of England Newspaper, January 10, 2014 January 16, 2014

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Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola was kidnapped on Christmas Eve by armed gunmen on Christmas Eve, but was released unharmed after he refused to pay a ransom.

At approximately 3:00 pm on 24 December 2013, the former Primate of All Nigeria was “carjacked” outside of the offices of the Peter Akinola Foundation Centre for Youth Industrial Training in Abeokuta, the capital of Western Nigeria’s Ogun State. Shortly after his driver pulled onto the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, a car carrying four gunmen cut off the archbishop’s Toyota Primera and fired pistols into the air.

Their car was forced to the roadside and the gun forced the archbishop and his driver to lie face down on the floor of the back seat.  The car was driven west towards Nigeria’s border with Benin while the bandit who held the archbishop at gunpoint demanded a ransom payment. Archbishop Akinola told the bandits he was a retired clergyman and had not the means to pay ransom.

The kidnappers stopped in a deserted area near the Benin border and after stripping the archbishop and his driver of their clothes, released them into the bush unharmed.

In a Christmas Day interview with the Premium Times, Archbishop Akinola said after he wa released, he made his way through the bush to a road where he “saw a police vehicle coming and there were gunshots, and the police team later came to rescue me from the spot.”

The archbishop had high praise for the police and for Ogun Governor Ibikunle Amosun. “I have to praise them, and I appreciate the governor who left his work to the bush looking for us. It’s unprecedented for a governor to personally lead a team into the bush. He risked his life and yet he didn’t mind that. I’ am deeply touched and impressed,” he said.

Canadian crosier recovered: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013

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Police have recovered the bishop of Qu’Appelle’s crosier, stolen last month from St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina, Saskatchewan.

On 18 Nov 2013 Regina police reported they had recovered the five and a half foot long staff made in the 1880s in London for the first bishop of the Canadian diocese. Valued for insurance purposes at C$15,000, the crosier sported a silver head encrusted with semi-precious stones. Police report the crosier had been damaged as the thief appeared to have attempted to pry the jewels from the staff.

The police have declined to speak to the circumstances of the crosier’s recovery, though they have asked the public to assist them with their inquiries to catch the thief.

Canadian crozier stolen: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

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Thieves have stolen the bishop of Qu’Appelle’s crozier from St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina.

The Diocese of Qu’Appelle reports that sometime in the last three weeks the antique bishop’s staff disappeared from the Saskatchewan cathedral. The police have been notified and local pawns shops informed of the theft.

The five and a half foot long staff was made in the 1880′s in London for the first bishop of the Canadian diocese and has a silver head encrusted with semi-precious stones. The Very Rev. Mike Sinclair, Dean of Qu’Appelle told the Regina Leader-Post the insurance value of the crozier was approximately C$15,000, but it was historical value made it irreplaciable for the diocese.

“It’s nearly impossible to sell,” he said, encouraging the thief to return the crozier.

“We’d love to have it back; it’s part of our family history, but at the same time we’re concerned for who has stolen it, that they don’t end up with more trouble than they need, when it would just be easy to return it.,” the dean said.

Anglican Archbishop kidnapped in Nigeria: Anglican Ink, September 7, 2013 September 7, 2013

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The Most Rev Ignatius Kattey

The Archbishop of the Province of the Niger Delta, the Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey, Bishop of Niger Delta North, has been kidnapped.

On the evening of 6 Sept 2013 at approximately 10:30 pm while driving to Port Harcourt, the archbishop and his wife were stopped by gunmen in Eleme.  A Rivers State police spokesman told the News Agency of Nigeria the kidnappers abandoned the car and Mrs. Kattey and fled into the bush with the archbishop.  No demand for ransom has yet been received.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bible supports capital punishment, Archbishop declares: The Church of England Newspaper, July 21, 2013, p 7. July 18, 2013

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The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has reaffirmed the morality of capital punishment telling reporters last week the execution of convicted criminals by the state did not contravene Christian ethical teaching.

On 21 June 2013 four men were hanged in Benin, Edo State after they exhausted their appeals following their convictions for murder. In a statement signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, president of the Nigerian Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the bishops described the executions as “a clear departure from modernity to savagery”.

“We believe that the actions aimed at reforming criminals will do better good to the society than capital punishment,” the Catholic archbishop said.

Overseas organizations led by Amnesty International also condemned the hangings. However Archbishop Okoh told reporters on 5 July 2013 “government should not allow anybody or organisation to teach it what morality is. The law of capital punishment for those who rightly deserve it should be enforced.”

The convicts executed last month were part of a criminal gang that had been found guilty of robbing a woman then raping and murdering her, the archbishop said. “Where is the human right of this woman? Meanwhile, the armed robbers involved had been executed, and people are crying for the human rights of the armed robbers,” he noted.

“Anybody who has degenerated to that level of depravity deserves capital punishment and it should be enforced,” said Archbishop Okoh, adding that it was “not true to say that punishment does not deter crime, it does.”

One of the duties of government is to administer justice. “Punishment must be effected and that is the essence of government, the Bible supports it, and the government cannot abdicate from punishing crime in the name of Amnesty International,” he said.

CAPA treasurer murdered: Anglican Ink, June 19, 2013 June 20, 2013

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The treasurer of CAPA — the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa  – was murdered last week at her home outside of Nairobi.

The CAPA website reports that on 8 June 2013, Grace Wambua (51) was hacked to death by a farmhand at her Kinaanie farm in Machakos. Local press reports state Ms. Wambua was slashed across her neck and her hands nearly severed as she sought to ward off the blows.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Fake resume lands diocesan official in court: The Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 2013 p 7. May 14, 2013

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The former chief executive officer of the Diocese of Lincoln has appeared in court to answer charges that he falsified his resume to secure the top administrative post in the diocese.

Maximilian Manin (54) is accused of making the false claim that he held a first class honours degree in English Literature and Art History from the University of Sheffield when he was appointed to the £45,000 a year job. Lincoln magistrates heard the first class degree was an essential requirement for the post.

Mr. Manin has also been charged with fraud over the improper use of a car loan. In May 2012 he left the position after a diocesan review committee recommended his post be eliminated. On 14 June 2012, the Bishop Christopher Lawson of Lincoln released a statement saying that after Mr. Manin’s resignation “new information has come to light which today has been handed to the Police.

“This information was acted on as soon as it came to light after consultation with the Chair of the Lincoln Diocesan Trust and Board of Finance and our auditors,” the bishop said, adding that “I am determined that this process should be dealt with fairly and in the correct manner, and therefore it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage.”

Canadian archdeacon arraigned: The Church of England Newspaper, April 22, 2013 April 22, 2013

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A Canadian archdeacon appeared before a Manitoba court last week to answer charges that he had embezzled approximately $190,000 from diocesan coffers. The Ven. Noah Njegovan (30) is alleged to have used a diocesan credit card to embezzle funds sent by congregations to the diocese last year while serving as executive archdeacon of the diocese and assistant to his father, Bishop James Njegovan of Brandon. Mr. Njegovan was released on bail and is set to return to court on 9 May 2013 to answer charges.

Crime concerns dominate Jamaican synod: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013, p 7. April 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Corruption, Crime, Gambling.
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The Bishop of Jamaica has denounced his government’s slow response to a lottery scam that has defrauded thousands of elderly Americans, saying it was symptomatic of the breakdown of law and order in the West Indies.

In his presidential address to the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands at the 143rd annual meeting of Synod held at St Ann’s Bay parish church, Bishop Howard Gregory said the “system of justice needs to become a primary focus of attention.”

“As a nation we are being called to repentance with a consequent change of action in relation to the blood of our young men and our women and children which is being shed daily in our country by criminal elements, but just as significant in the resolution of domestic disputes.”

The Bishop condemned the government for permitting the sale of lottery tickets on Sunday. He noted that the legislation passed during holy week led him to ask “whether this is an expression of gross insensitivity or a statement concerning the way forward for the relationship between church and society”.

He also took the government to task for not moving to stop the “Jamaican lottery scam” until the U.S. Senate began hearings on the crimes.

A report by CBS reported that in 2012 over 29,000 lottery scam complaints were filed with American police agencies. Posing as representatives of Publishers Clearinghouse and other lottery and sweepstakes firms, the scammers would tell elderly Americans that they had won a cash prize but first needed to make a tax payment before the money would be released. The Jamaican-based fraud had taken in tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors have alleged.

“After seven years of public awareness of the lottery scam, our Government has only managed to table anti-scamming legislation and talk tough at the very moment when the United States Senate was holding a [Senate] hearing on the scam in Jamaica,” Bishop Gregory said.

The government’s failure to act did nothing to combat Jamaica’s reputation as a den of crime and corruption. “The way we are presenting ourselves to the world in terms of our moral values as a nation calls for serious repentance on the part of citizens and political leaders as a whole,” he said.

The willingness also of ordinary Jamaicans to countenance the lottery scam told the world “we have some very skewed moral values.”

Archdeacon arraigned on fraud charges: Anglican Ink, April 9, 2013 April 9, 2013

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Bishop James Njegovan of Brandon

The former Executive Archdeacon of Brandon appeared before a Manitoba court yesterday to answer charges that he had embezzled approximately $190,000 from diocesan coffers.

The Ven. Noah James Bernard Njegovan, 30, was arraigned on charges of having committed a fraud of over $5,000 while serving as executive archdeacon of the diocese and assistant to his father, Bishop James Njegovan of Brandon.

Mr. Njegovan was released on bail and is set to return to court on 9 May 2013.

Read it all the Anglican Ink.

Indian bishop jailed for forgery: The Church of England Newspaper, March 31 2013, p 7. April 3, 2013

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Manickam Dorai

A retired Bishop of the Church of South India (CSI) has been sentenced to three years imprisonment and fined Rs 15,000 for forgery and fraud.  The conviction of the Rt. Rev Devaraj Bangera, the former Bishop in the Karnataka Southern Diocese last week follows news that the Indian tax authorities have seized the assets of the former Bishop in Coimbatore, Manickam Dorai– who last year was defrocked by the CSI for fraud and theft.

On 20 March 2013 a judge in Mangalore sentenced Bishop Bangera after the trial court found he had forged his birth certificate in order to avoid mandatory retirement at age 65. Elected Bishop in 2005 the bishop declined to step down from office on his 65th birthday on 29 June 2009.  He presented a birth certificate showing he had been born in 1945 and brought suit to block his retirement.

However the newly appointed treasurer of the diocese, while investigating allegations of theft made against Bishop Bangera, uncovered a birth certificate dated 1944. An inquiry with the municipality that had allegedly issued in 1945 birth certificate found it was a forgery and bishop’s true birth year was 1944.  Bishop Bangera currently is on bail pending appeal.

Last month the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of the Indian tax authority attached properties registered in the name of the life and brother of the former Bishop in Coimbatore Manickam Dorai under the rules governing the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.  The levies came after the Tamil Nadu state police registered a case against Bishop Dorai and his brother for “misappropriation of Diocese funds, a public charitable trust, to the tune of Rs 7.93 crore” (£865,000).

In 2012 Bishop Dorai was defrocked by the CSI after he was found guilty of fraud and theft of church funds.

Doping scandal rocks Australian sport: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2013, p 7. March 18, 2013

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A report released last week by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) that found “widespread” use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes, match-fixing and links between sport and organized crime has prompted the Anglican Church to call for a ban on sports gambling.

On 8 Feb 2013 Bishop Phillip Huggins, chairman of the Diocese of Melbourne Social Affairs Committee said a moratorium on betting on major sports, including football, rugby and cricket, should be considered by the government.

A suspension of sports betting would give the leagues time to “complete the clean-up now under way, and would remove any possibility that the winter games of the [Australian Football League] and [National Rugby League] would attract unsavoury speculation.”

At a 7 Feb 2013 Canberra press conference, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said “multiple athletes from a number of clubs in major Australian sporting codes are suspected of currently using or having previously used peptides, potentially constituting anti-doping rule violations”.

“It’s cheating but it’s worse than that, it’s cheating with the help of criminals,” he said.

The 47-page report found “clear parallels” between doping amongst Australian athletes and the case of cyclist Lance Armstrong. These links underscored “the trans-national threat posed by doping to professional sport,” the report said with the “difference” that “Australian threat is current”, covers multiple sports and “is evolving.”

Mr. Claire added that “links between organised crime and players exposes players to the risk of being co-opted for match-fixing and this investigation has identified one possible example of that and that is currently under investigation.”

No names were mentioned in the ACC’s report, Mr. Clare said, as police investigations were on-going.

The “alleged linkages between organised crime and sport require a strong united response aimed at restoring integrity,” Bishop Huggins said, adding “the word ‘play’ is used in relation to sporting ‘games’. These words speak of an innocence and integrity we all want to recover, both in sport and in our community.”

South Africa reaches tipping point on rape: The Church of England Newspaper, February 17, 2013, p. 6. March 15, 2013

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Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal

The gang rape and murder of 17-year old Anene Booyson has galvanized South Africa, focusing attention on the county’s culture of rape.

On 2 Feb 2013 a security guard discovered the dying girl at a construction site close to her home in the rural town of Bredasdorp in the Western Cape. Before she died, the girl was able to identify one of her three attackers – a family friend.

According to United Nations statistical reports, Southern Africa (South Africa and Lesotho) lead the world in incidents per capita per rape. The Crime Report 2010/11 published by the South African Police Services stated 66,196 rapes had been reported to the police – however, women’s rights activists claim the number of rapes could be eight times higher as most women do not report to police.

However, the rape of Anene Booyson may have “become a tipping point” for South Africa, said Albert Fritz the Western Cape provincial minister of social development, that leads to change.

President Jacob Zuma denounced the crime saying: “The whole nation is outraged at this extreme violation and destruction of a young human life,” he said. “This act is shocking, cruel and most inhumane. It has no place in our country. We must never allow ourselves to get used to these acts of base criminality to our women and children.”

The president called on the courts to “impose the harshest sentences on such crimes, as part of a concerted campaign to end this scourge in our society.”

The Bishop of False Bay, the Rt. Rev. Margaret Vertue, paid a pastoral call on the dead girl’s family after preaching in the Anglican Church in Bredasdorp on 10 Feb 2013.  “Anene is the victim of the social ills and loss of moral values of our society,” the bishop said, adding that what “happened to Anene and others who have died a violent death is a symptom of brooded evil.”

The Dean of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal stated: “Anene Booysen is a name on the lips of almost every South African this week. She has become the visible image of a deathly scourge that haunts us all – the scourge of rape.  As happens more and more frequently, Anene’s rape was accompanied by extraordinary levels of violence.”

“Anene has been robbed of her life. Her mother has been robbed of a child. But it is not only Anene who has died brutally this week. The hope of our rainbow nation dies, agonising cry by agonising cry, every time a woman is raped – approximately 3500 times a day.   How is it that the dream nation has become the rape capital of the world,” Bishop Philip asked.

The leaders of ACSA had called upon all Anglicans to “use the season of Lent to recognise that every time we fail to act against gender based violence, we are complicit in its perpetration. Anglican churches are being requested to light a candle on Wednesday in memory of Anene and all women who have suffered the violence of rape. Male members are being asked to declare ‘not in my name. This violence may not continue’,” the bishop said.

Probation for Episcopal Church’s Hip Hop Priest: Anglican Ink, February 9, 2013 February 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Crime, Hymnody/Liturgy, The Episcopal Church.
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A New Jersey court has sentenced the Episcopal Church’s “Hip-Hop” priest, the Rev. Timothy Holder, to two years’ probation for stealing more than $35,000 from his Atlantic City parish.

On 8 Feb 2013 Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson handed down the sentence to Mr. Holder (57) and ordered him to make restitution to his former parish, the Church of the Ascension. In December he pled guilty to third-degree theft by deception for writing checks on the church’s bank account while serving as rector between 2007 and 2009.

Before moving to the Church of the Ascension, Mr. Holder, who has been on administrative leave from his position as Associate Rector at Christ Church in Toms River, served as vicar of the South Bronx’s Trinity Episcopal Church of Morrisania, where he created the popular “Hip-Hop” services to serve the needs of the local community.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

French icon vandalized at the Louvre: Anglican Ink, February 8, 2013 February 8, 2013

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The Louvre Museum in Paris today announced that it was temporarily closing its Louvre-Lens gallery after a visitor defaced Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People.

The French newspaper La Croix reported that on 7 Feb 2013 a 28 year old woman drew on the La Liberté guidant le peuple before she was apprehended by other patrons.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Continuing church priest arrested in Moscow: Anglican Ink, January 30, 2013 January 31, 2013

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A continuing Anglican priest has been arrested by customs officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, accused of smuggling cocaine into Russia.

State television broadcaster Rossiya 24 reported that Fr. Fabio Ricardo Rodriguez was arrested on 30 Jan 2013 after the priest’s behavior attracted the attention of Federal Drug Control Service officers.  After his arrival from Paris, Fr. Rodriguez appeared unwell and acted in a nervous manner.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

 

Canterbury gun control plea: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 5. January 21, 2013

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined a chorus of American church leaders calling for stricter gun control laws in the United States following last month’s Connecticut school shooting.

In his final “Thought for the Day” broadcast as Archbishop of Canterbury on BBC Radio 4, Dr. Williams acknowledged that by itself gun control will not end violence, but their strict regulation would curtail it.

“A week after the horrific killings of the schoolchildren of Sandy Hook in Connecticut, most of us are still struggling to get our minds around such a nightmare,” Dr. Williams said, adding that “nearly 6,000 children and teenagers were killed by firearms in the USA in just two years.”

The problem of “gang culture” was not unique to America, he noted, but “in the US, the question is, of course, about gun laws, one of the most polarising issues in American politics.”

“And there is one thing often said by defenders of the American gun laws that ought to make us think about wider questions.  ‘It’s not guns that kill, it’s people.’  Well, yes, in a sense.  But it makes a difference to people what weapons are at hand for them to use – and, even more, what happens to people in a climate where fear is rampant and the default response to frightening or unsettling situations or personal tensions is violence or the threat of violence.  If all you have is a hammer, it’s sometimes said, everything looks like a nail.  If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target,” the archbishop said.

Last week the Bishop of Olympia, the Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel joined the Bishop of Washington and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in calls for the government to review gun laws.

The Seattle-based bishop wrote that in the United States, “gun violence is a slow growing cancer which we have had the luxury, by and large, to ignore or at the very least show little attention to. Sadly, it has taken the loss of 20 of the youngest among us, the ones with the least power, to get our attention.”

“Up until that tragedy in Connecticut, we were starting to get used to school shootings. Will we get used to this too?” he asked.

Bishop Rickel joined Dr. Williams in rejecting the arguments put forward by the hunting and shooting community.  He stated the National Rifle Associations “solution is not surprising: arm more people. That solution grows out of a belief in the inevitability of a heavily armed society, which they have helped create. We are now the most armed nation in the world.”

The bishop said he was “not against the end of all guns. That, at this point, is probably unrealistic. But, I am very much for rational regulation of them.

Dr. Williams observed that “if it’s true that if all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target.”

The “control of the weapons trade is a start,” he said, towards ending the violence.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper-

Connecticut school shooting leaves America in mourning: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 7. December 28, 2012

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Church leaders in the United States have responded with horror to last week’s Connecticut school shooting, calling upon Anglicans to turn towards God in prayer in response to the murder of 26 people – including 20 school children.

On 14 Dec 2012, Adam Lanza (20), shot and killed his mother at their home and then proceeded to her workplace, the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  Police have yet to release a timeline of events, but armed with a variety of pistols taken from his mother’s home, Lanza entered the school killing six teachers and administrators and the members of his mother’s class – 20 children ranging in age from 5 to 7 years of age.

Lanza then took his own life before police arrived on the scene.  The motive for the killings is unknown as are details of the killer’s life – though acquaintances described the young man as troubled.

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America urged his flock to pray for the victims and their families. “Please join us in praying for the victims of and families affected by Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. “Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations,” he wrote.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote the Episcopal Church grieved with those who had died and mourned the loss “of lives so young and innocent.  We grieve that the means of death are so readily available to people who lack the present capacity to find other ways of responding to their own anger and grief.  We know that God’s heart is broken over this tragedy, and the tragedies that unfold each and every day across this nation.  And we pray that this latest concentration of shooting deaths in one event will awaken us to the unnoticed number of children and young people who die senselessly across this land every day.”

Speaking at a memorial service in Newtown High School on 16 December, President Barack Obama said he was “very mindful that words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, but whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. … Newtown, you are not alone.”

“These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change,” the president said, saying he would call upon law enforcement and mental health experts to “prevent another tragedy like this.”

The shooting has prompted a national debate over the causes of “rampage” killings, with some blaming a changing culture, others loose gun control laws, while others have questioned state programs of closing state mental hospitals in favor of community care.

In statement released after the shootings on Friday, the Bishop of Washington Mariann Budde announced that she was “calling on our national leaders to enact more effective gun control measures. We know from experience that such calls go unheeded. But what if this time, you and I took up this issue and wouldn’t put it down until something was done? . . . Today we grieve, but soon we act.”

However, conservative columnist Mona Charen argued the problem also lay in failed health policies as “misplaced civil libertarianism and romanticization of mental illness led to deinstitutionalization” of the mentally ill so that “now, 95 percent of the inpatient beds we had in 1955 are gone.”

There were a “a small subset of mentally ill people who are dangerous. They are responsible for an estimated 50 percent of rampage killings. In the name of personal autonomy, we have made it almost impossible to force them to get treatment. The horrifying consequences are all around us,” she said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls upon America to enact strict gun control: Anglican Ink, December 22, 2012 December 22, 2012

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected the argument that “guns do not kill people, people kill people” stating the Connecticut school shooting was facilitated by the easy access to firearms permitted by U.S. laws.

In his final “Thought for the Day” broadcast as Archbishop of Canterbury on BBC Radio 4, Dr. Williams acknowledged that by itself gun control will not end violence, but their strict regulation would curtail it.

“A week after the horrific killings of the schoolchildren of Sandy Hook in Connecticut, most of us are still struggling to get our minds around such a nightmare,” Dr. Williams said, adding that “nearly 6,000 children and teenagers were killed by firearms in the USA in just two years.”

The problem of “gang culture” was not unique to America, he noted, but “in the US, the question is, of course, about gun laws, one of the most polarising issues in American politics.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Retired cathedral dean arrested for drug trafficking: Anglican Ink, November 14, 2012 November 14, 2012

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The Very Rev Stephen Foote

The former Archdeacon of Maine and Dean of St Luke’s Cathedral in Portland has been arrested for drug trafficking.

On 1 Nov 2012 deputies from the Lincoln County Sherriff’s Office arrested the Very Rev. Stephen Foote and charged him with a class C felony: smuggling a controlled substance into the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wicasset, Maine.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Priest’s wife accused of murdering her husband: The Church of England Newspaper, September 9, 2012 p 7. September 10, 2012

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The wife of an Anglican priest in South Africa has been arrested in connection with the murder of her husband, the Rev. Canon Ongama Xuba, who last month was found stabbed to death in his rectory in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.

Last week police detectives announced that Mrs. Lungiswa Xuba (40) had been arrested as an accessory in the death of her husband.  The police reported they had also taken into custody Mr. Vuyo Mehlo (40) and have charged him with killing Canon Xuba.

On 3 August, Mrs. Xuba and her two small children returned to their home from a shopping excursion.  The children ran into the house and then rushed back, telling their mother that their father was badly injured.  Canon Xuba the rector of St Peter’s Church in Butterworth in the Diocese of Mbhashe, died at the scene.

Mrs. Xuba’s relationship to the accused killer has not been revealed by the police.  Butterworth police spokesman, Captain Jackson Manatha stated:  ”After their arrest on Friday last week they were detained by police until they appeared in court yesterday. They made a brief court appearance and are expected back in court next week for a formal bail application.

“Both are charged with the murder of Xuba,” Captain Manatha said.

Bishop Elliot Williams of the Diocese of Mbhashe told reporters he was profoundly saddened by the murder and the news of Mrs. Xuba’s arrest was “terrible”.

The accused are scheduled to appear before the Butterworth magistrate court this week to answer the charges of murder and conspiracy.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Murder and death threats rock Kenyan diocese: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2012 p 6. June 25, 2012

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Bishop Beniah Salala and the clergy of the Diocese of Mumias march in protest following the murder of the Rev. Benson Nandwa Makokha

A bishop’s call to investigate the murder of one of his priests has led to anonymous death threats and a campaign of silent intimidation, Bishop Beniah Salala of Mumias in Western Kenya reports.

On 14 April 2012 the body of the Rev. Benson Nandwa Makokha of Shibale was found in his vicarage.  The priest had evidently been murdered as he was preparing his sermon for the following morning.  While some police officials have suggested the motive for the crime may have been robbery, church officials believe the crime was a political murder.

After a police investigation declined to turn up any leads, Bishop Salala began to voice public criticisms of the investigation – and he began to receive text messages threatening him with death.

Speaking to local reporters from his home in Mumias, Bishop Salala said he had reported the threats to the police.  When he asked about the status of the investigation, he was told by the District Criminal Investigation Officer that the network tracker was not working and the text messages he received could not be traced.

While the bishop has been assigned a police guard, he told reporters that his safety was not the primary issue in the affair.  “Is it a crime to stand up and speak against vices? Do they think they will silence us by killing us? Will they kill me the way Alexander Muge was killed? Even if I have to die today in cold blood my spirit shall speak against the evil of this society. My spirit shall fight for justice because ours is a call from God,” the bishop said according to West FM.

On 14 Aug 1990 Bishop Alexander Muge of Eldoret was murdered on orders of the government of President Daniel Arap Moi, a former member of Kenya’s Directorate of State Intelligence – the Special Branch – told the country’s Truth Justice & Reconciliation Commission last March.

On 5 March 2012, Former Special Branch Inspector James Lando Khwatenge testified that the road accident in Busia that killed the outspoken bishop had been engineered by Special Branch to silence him, and to provide an example to political dissidents.

Church officials fear the murder of Fr. Makokha and the death threats against the bishop may presage a return to the political violence that surrounding the 2007 general elections.  Clashes between supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and his opponent Raila Odinga turned violent after the president was declared the winner on 27 December 2007.

While some protests were peaceful, in the slums of Nairobi and in Odinga’s Nyanza Province violence erupted as police clashed with demonstrators.  Mob violence soon targeted ethnic minorities, with members of President Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe targeted for attack in areas outside their traditional homelands.  The worst violence took place in the Rift Valley and Western Kenya, culminating in the murder of 30 Kikuyu sheltering in a church in Eldoret on 1 January 2008.  Across the country police estimated over 1000 people were killed and thousands left homeless by the political and tribal pogroms.

However, a police spokesman told West FM the investigations into the murder and death threat were on-going and it was too soon to ascribe a motive to the crimes.  “I can assure you that both the murderers and those threatening the Bishop will be brought to book. The bishop should be patient with us,” a police spokesman said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Send the unemployed home, archbishop says: The Church of England Newspaper, May 20, 2012 p 6. May 28, 2012

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Archbishop David Vunagi

The Archbishop of  Melanesia has urged the government of the Solomon Islands to halt the influx of rural villagers to the country’s capital Honiara saying there is neither work nor a place for them to live. The lack of opportunity has led to a sharp jump in crime, Archbishop David Vunagi told Radio Australia on 25 April 2012. He believed the capital was experiencing a spike in crime because of “the struggle to survive.”

“As long as we continue to have people who are doing nothing in Honiara, this is where all this criminal activity is beginning to develop; stealing, shoplifting, even snatching people’s bags as they walk past, all these things. And even worse, even wounding and killing,” the archbishop said.

“That’s why I think maybe these are people who are supposed to go back to the rural areas and use the subsistence lifestyle…where they can fish, they can grow something to eat … Coming to live in town they’re frustrated about life…they have to do something that is inappropriate for everybody,” the archbishop said.

Slowly recovering from a four year civil war and the effects of a 2007 tsunami, the Solomon Islands is classified as a less developed country with a per capita income of $600 per year.  Over 75 per cent of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture.  Described as a “failed state” by political analysts, the Solomon Islands government is assisted by a Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) with military and civilian assistance provided by Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations.

Archbishop Vunagi stated the church was doing what it could to help, but there were “members of the community, who escape the net of the church, and this is where I believe the government, the law of the country needs to be firm, needs to be articulate to address such issues.”

“Our country, Solomon Islands is a small country…we need to develop more human attitude and behaviour…so that our personal problems we should not push it onto others. We should not take it onto others,” the archbishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Police arrest Plymouth parish treasurer for £120,000 theft: The Church of England Newspaper, April 22, 2012 p 3. April 26, 2012

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St Boniface Church, St Budeaux, Plymouth

A former church treasurer has been charged with embezzling nearly £120,000 from a Plymouth parish and church school.

On 12 April 2012 Nicola Jane Holding (47) of Plymouth was charged with three counts of fraud by of position.  She was accused of having “dishonestly abused” her position as treasurer St Boniface Church, St Budeaux in Plymouth  by stealing £50,794.79 from church coffers, of having stolen £68,080.44 from the accounts of the church’s pre-school, and £500 from the accounts of the church’s youth club.

Devon & Cornwall police arrested Ms. Holding on 9 Nov 2011 after a review by a forensic accountant engaged by the Diocese of Exeter found that at least £10,000 had gone missing from the church’s accounts.  An investigation by detectives of the Asset Recovery Team uncovered the other thefts.

Following her arrest in November, a spokesman for the diocese said: “We are doing all we can to support the church community while this police inquiry is underway.”

Ms. Holding has been released on bail and will appear at Plymouth Magistrates Court on 9 May 2012.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church support for Kennedy Road squatters: The Church of England Newspaper, April 13, 2012 p 6. April 18, 2012

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A squatter’s settlement in Durban that has been a flashpoint between the ruling African National Congress and pro-democracy activists has been badly damaged by a fire of unknown origin.

On the night of 3 April 2012 fire swept through informal settlement.  A spokesman for the Durban fire brigade said that upwards of 100 homes were destroyed, but only two people were injured.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, offered his condolences and assured residents of his continued support.  In a letter given to the Bishop of Natal, the Rt. Rev. Rubil Phillip, Archbishop Makgoba said “We are deeply saddened in Holy Week to learn of the fire which has ravaged the little which the people and community still possessed. I understand that it is estimated that at least 1000 people are now homeless.”

“I know of the journey of the people of Kennedy Road: of their struggle for descent housing, for dignity and respect and the realisation of their constitutional rights. As we weep with them at this time, we continue to support their call for dignity and justice, and we appeal to our leaders and to the general population to help provide people with proper houses, and to improve the provision clean water and decent sanitation.

“May the message of Easter bring consolation to the community and a resolve to continue their fight for better housing, sanitation and water, as well as for safety.”

The Kennedy Road settlement was the scene of a violent confrontation when on the night of 26 Sept 2009 a group of approximately 40 men armed with machetes and automatic weapons surrounded a building where the members of the AbM — Abahlali baseMjondolo (Zulu for “people based in shacks”) Youth League — were gathered.  In the battle that ensued a dozen people were injured and four members of AbM were killed.

When the police arrived at the scene of the battle, they arrested 8 members of AbM for the deaths of their comrades. The next morning the gang returned to Kennedy Road and looted two dozen shacks – the homes of leaders of the shack-dwellers governing council, the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC).  Local leaders of the ANC accompanied the gang as they looted the homes.  Police observed their actions but did not intervene.

“We are under attack,” the AbM and KRDC said in a press release. “We have been attacked physically with all kinds of weapons – guns and knives, even a sword. We have been driven from our homes and our community. The police did nothing to stop the attacks despite our calls for help.”

“What happened in Kennedy Road was a coup – a violent replacement of a democratically elected community organization. The ANC have taken over everything that we built in Kennedy Road,” the AbM said, charging local political leaders with seeking to evict the residents of Kennedy Road so as to develop the land for their personal profit.

The police subsequently arrested five members of the KRDC and charged the 13 activists with the murder of their colleagues killed by the ANC.

Bishop Phillip intervened in the affair, and spearheaded a campaign by democracy activists to free the “Kennedy Road 13”.  Following trial the 13 were acquitted, but charges have not yet been brought against those accused of organizing the attack.

The origins of this week’s fire is unknown and is remains under investigation, the Durban fire brigade has reported.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Crime is killing the Caribbean, bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, April 6, 2012 p 6. April 9, 2012

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Bishop Howard Gregory

Corruption and crime are the most immediate evils facing Caribbean society the new Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has warned.  There has been a breakdown of trust in society that was reflected in rising social tensions, voter apathy and greed, Bishop Howard Gregory said in his first interview following his election on 27 March 2012.

The new bishop’s warning follows the publication of a report by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) that the region’s rising crime rates were threatening the economies of the Caribbean.  The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012, reported that with the exception of Barbados and Suriname, homicide rates – including gang-related killings – have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean, while they have been falling or stabilizing in other parts of the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 8.5 per cent of the world population, yet the region accounts for some 27 per cent of the world’s homicides, according to the UNDP report. While the total number of murders in Jamaica dropped to 1,124 in 2011 – a seven-year low – the country has the highest homicide rate in the Caribbean and the third-highest murder rate worldwide in recent years, with about 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.  Only El Salvador and Honduras have higher rates, with 66 and 82.1 murders respectively per 100,000 people.

“Violence limits people’s choices, threatens their physical integrity, and disrupts their daily lives,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, urging Caribbean governments to tackle crime head on.

The reported estimated that gang-related crime cost between 2.8 and 4 per cent of gross domestic product in the region, due to reduced tourism and higher policing and jailing costs.   Crime costs Jamaica over $529 million a year in lost income, the report found, while in Trinidad and Tobago, a one per cent reduction in youth crime would boost tourism revenue by $35 million per year.

Gang-related crime was only part of the problem, Bishop Gregory said.  “I am concerned that those in governance are not doing enough to deal with issues of corruption,” he told the Gleaner.  This had led to a breakdown of trust between the people and the state.

He further said that there was a breakdown of trust in society which needs to be addressed and he would not shy away from taking on the challenge.

“What we have seen in terms of voter turnout is indicative of something happening in the society. I believe that is finding its way into the church as well. People are feeling frustrated, they want to see things happening,” he said, adding that there was a “general mistrust of people in authority and leadership and people want to feel that they can trust those who are in leadership so that is one of the issues that I think I need to deal with.”

The Rt. Rev. Howard Gregory was elected bishop at a special meeting of synod on the second ballot by the 131 clergy and 200 lay delegates to the Elective Assembly held at St Luke’s Church Hall in Cross Roads. On the first round of voting, the Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, the Rt. Rev. Robert Thompson, led in the balloting but fell short of the two thirds majority required. However, Bishop Thompson withdrew following the first ballot and Bishop Howard received two-thirds of the vote on the second round.  Elected Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay in 2002, Bishop Howard has been serving as the administrator of the diocese since Bishop Alfred Reid retired in December.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Saint’s heart stolen from Dublin cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012, p 7. March 15, 2012

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The Irish police have requested the assistance of the public to help them solve the theft of a relic of the patron saint of Dublin, St. Laurence O’Toole, stolen from St Laud’s Chapel in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Sometime during early hours of 3 March 2012, a thief removed a wooden heart-shaped reliquary containing the mummified heart of the 12th century archbishop from an iron cage in a chapel in the cathedral.

The relic has been kept at the cathedral for over 800 years, Dean Dermot Dunne told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme. The relic “has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links our present foundation with its founding father, St Laurence O’Toole.”

Police are reviewing CCTV film from the night of the theft. However, Dean Dunne noted there were a number of odd incidents surrounding the theft. Gold and silver altar vessels located in the same chapel as the relic were not taken by the thief while a number of prayer candles had been lit during the night.

“In our Trinity chapel, our prayer chapel on the north transept, all the candles were lit there. It’s quite confusing,” the dean said.

Born Lorcan Ua Tuathail in Castledermot, Co. Kildare, in 1128, Laurence O’Toole became Archbishop of Dublin and was revered as an ascetic who wore a hair shirt, abastained from meat and fasted every Friday. He died in 1180 and was canonised in 1225 by Pope Honorius III.

St. Laurence O’Toole’s heart has been preserved in Christ Church Cathedral since the 13th Century and has been a major pilgrimage site since the medieval period. His bones were interred at the Parish Church of Chorley, but they disappeared during the Reformation.

The Gardaí have appealed to anyone with information to contact them to help with their inquiries.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop’s murder politically motivated: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012, p 7. March 15, 2012

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Bishop Alexander Muge of Eldoret, Kenya

Bishop Alexander Muge of Eldoret was murdered on orders of the government of President Daniel Arap Moi, a former member of Kenya’s Directorate of State Intelligence – the Special Branch – told the country’s Truth Justice & Reconciliation Commission this week.

On 5 March 2012, Former Special Branch Inspector James Lando Khwatenge testified that the 14 August 1990 road accident in Busia that killed the outspoken bishop had been engineered by Special Branch to silence him, and to provide an example to political dissidents.

The murder was planned by the security services as “Operation Shika Msumari”, Inspector Khwatenge said. However, the acted on their own initiative to plan the murder he told the commission.

In the late 1980’s, Kenya’s Christian churches were in the vanguard of the campaign to end one party rule by the Kenya African National Union (KANU). The Church of the Province of Kenya in 1990 pressed the KANU government to amend the constitution and allow a multi-party political system, an independent judiciary, protection of tenure for the Attorney General and Auditor-General, a secret ballot for elections, and a limit on the tenure of office for the president to two five year terms.

The country’s churches backed the Anglican call for reform and in June 1990 urged President Moi to dissolve parliament, convene a national constitutional conference and hold free and fair elections. Large-scale political demonstrations erupted in July, which prompted a government crackdown, with the government detaining its most vocal critics, charging them with sedition.

In response, Bishop Alexander Muge of Eldoret and his colleague, Bishop John Okullu of Maseno South called for the president to step down and for fresh elections. On 12 Aug 1990, Labour Minister Peter Okondo warned Bishop Muge that if he and Bishop Okullu entered the Busia district “they will see fire and may not leave alive.”

Bishop Muge told the press the next day: “Let [Okondo] know that my innocent blood will haunt him forever and he will not be at peace for God does not approve murder.”

On 14 Aug 1990, Bishop Muge and his staff set out for Busia in the Diocese of Eldoret, when the car in which the bishop was travelling collided with a lorry. Bishop Muge was killed on impact. The lorry driver was arrested and given a seven year sentence for dangerous driving, but died in prison five years later.

In a radio address delivered after the bishop’s death, President Moi said Bishop Muge was a “devoted son of his country” and said he had learned of his death with “deep shock and distress.”

In his testimony this week before the Truth commission, Inspector Lando Khwatenge stated the security services took it upon themselves to silence the bishop. “Okondo said these words to be seen as a loyal Nyayo follower but then people took advantage of this,” the inspector said.

Inspector Lando Khwatenge’s testimony was cut short by the commission, but its chairman Berhamu Dinka said they would reconvene to hear further evidence on the murder at a future date.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Robinson Cavalcanti murdered: Anglican Ink, February 27, 2012 February 27, 2012

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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti preaching in the U.S.

The Diocese of Recife reports that Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife were murdered in their home in Olinda in Northeastern Brazil last night.  The bishop’s adopted son is alleged to have knifed his parents following a quarrel.

On 26 February 2012, at approximately 10:00 pm the bishop returned to his home in Olinda after having visited a parish earlier in the day.  The bishop’s son is alleged to have pulled a knife on his father and stabbed him.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Immigration fraud trial begins for Chelmsford curate: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2012, p 7. February 10, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The trial of a Diocese of Chelmsford clergyman and his accomplice on charges of immigration fraud began last week at the Inner London Crown Court.

The Rev. Elwon John and Amdudalat Ladipo, an illegal immigrant from Nigeria, are accused of having conducted and facilitated approximately 200 sham marriages for a fee to assist illegal immigrants to remain in Britain.

Mr. John (44) is charged with having performed the marriages in concert with the Rev. Brian Shipsides (55) at All Saints Church in Forest Gate in east London, the Crown Prosecution Service told jurors.  Ms. Lapido (31) is alleged to have served as the go between the clergymen and the illegal immigrants.

Mr. Shipsides entered a guilty plea at the start of the trial, while the two other defendants have pled not guilty.

On March 13, 2011 the Crown Prosecution Service presented formal charges against the two clergymen and Ms. Lapido of conspiring to facilitate entry and to obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK in breach of immigration law by allegedly conducting approximately 200 sham marriages between December 2007 and July 2010.

After having received a tip that the parish church was being used to conduct the sham marriages, officers of the Metropolitan Police and the U.K. Border Agency raided the church on 31 July 2010.  They found Ms. Lapido at the church, allegedly waiting to witness a marriage of friends.

The defendant allegedly tried to dispose of a package she was carrying which the police recovered and found contained forged identity documents.  An examination of the church’s records led to the arrest of the two priests.

In his opening remarks Mr. David Walbank, prosecuting for the Crown stated the case against the defendants involved a “massive and systematic immigration fraud” centered at “one particular parish church in the east of London, All Saints Church in Forest Gate.”

The Crown will seek to prove that over a two-and-a-half year period almost 200 sham marriages were “entered in to for the purpose of immigration” with “most of the so-called couples participated in these marriage ceremonies were not actually couples at all.”

Illegal immigrants “married [to EU residents] in that church not because they wished to spend their lives together and wanted the blessing of the church, most of the persons married there for a very different reason.  Their ultimate purpose was to obtain enhanced rights to enter and live in the United Kingdom.”

The trial is expected to last for four weeks.  Last week Manchester vicar, the Rev. Canon Patrick Magumba, was jailed for 30 months for having conducted sham marriages at his church in Rochdale.  In 2010 the Rev. Alex Brown was convicted of having conducted almost 200 sham marriages at his East Sussex church, while the vicar of St Jude with St Aidan Church in Thornton Heath, Mr. Nathan Ntege, was arrested in August 2011 on suspicion of conducting fraudulent marriages and is awaiting trial.

Manchester vicar jailed for immigration fraud: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2012, p 7. February 10, 2012

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Canon Patrick Magumba

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A Manchester vicar has been sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for immigration fraud.

On 26 January 2012 the Bolton Crown Court sentenced the Rev Canon Patrick Magumba following a guilty plea entered last December on one count of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law and to two counts of theft.

Canon Magumba, a Ugandan immigrant and the former Team Vicar for the South Rochdale Team Ministry of St Peter’s, Newbold, St Luke’s Deeplish, and St Mary’s, Balderstone, was found to have conducted 21 fraudulent marriages at St Peter’s and 10 at St Luke’s between April 2008 and February 2011.

On 13 March 2011, the Archdeacon of Rochdale told the congregation of St Peter’s Church that Canon Magumba had been arrested and the rectory and church searched by officers of the UK Border Agency in connection with an investigation of sham marriages in the North West.

The police investigation found the vicar had also pocketed wedding and funeral fees, diverting £5,400 from St Peter’s and £2,908 from St Luke’s.

Magumba showed no emotion as sentence was passed at Bolton crown court on Thursday after he admitted carrying out 28 sham weddings.

As he handed down his sentence, Judge William Morris told Canon Magumba “whatever your motive for facilitating the fraudulent entry into this country of these individuals, neither you or anyone else in your place can place your conscience above the laws of this country. Your offences have brought scandal to the church and let down your family and parishioners.”

Plymouth fraud arrest: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2011 p 5. November 19, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Devon & Cornwall police have arrested a former church worker at St Boniface Church, St Budeaux in Plymouth on suspicion of stealing over £10,000 from church coffers.

An unnamed 47-year old woman was taken into custody on 9 Nov 2011 following an investigation by detectives of the Asset Recovery Team.  A review by a forensic accountant engaged by the Diocese of Exeter found that cash had gone missing from the church’s accounts.  The diocese turned over the results of its investigation to the police, who began their inquiries.

The suspect was questioned by detectives at the Charles Cross Police Station and was released on bail until her 2 Feb 2012 hearing.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Exeter said: “We are doing all we can to support the church community while this police inquiry is underway.”

Oldham vicar jailed for theft: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 30, 2011 p 5. October 1, 2011

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Manchester Bishop Nigel McCulloch and the Rev. Vaughan Leonard

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court has sentenced a former Oldham vicar to 10 months imprisonment for theft.

Speaking from the bench, Judge Peter Lakin said the Rev. Vaughan Leonard’s claim that he kept wedding and funeral fees to support needy members of the community was a “tissue of lies.”

“You helped yourself to church funds and used the money for your own purposes and I totally reject your evidence that the money was taken to help the needy. You were an unimpressive and unsatisfying witness,” the judge said last week.

On March 16, Mr. Leonard pled guilty to diverting to his own pockets over £14,000 in fees paid to conduct weddings and funerals.

The court heard that Mr. Leonard’s peculations began a week after took office at St Thomas Church in Leesfield in June 2006. Evidence was presented that from 2006 to his departure in 2009 the vicar pocketed £7,484 in funeral fees as well as £6,859 paid to him for reading marriage banns.

The thefts were discovered upon his departure as incumbent of St Thomas Leesfield, to become Priest in Charge of All Saints, Rhodes. The parish council asked for an accounting of fees paid to Mr. Leonard during his tenure that should have been turned over to the parish. After the funds were found to be missing and Mr. Leonard was unable to make good the loss, the police were notified of the theft.

In support of his claim that he had used the proceeds of his crime to help the needy, Mr. Leonard submitted a “spiritual journal” which he claimed showed how he had spent the money on the poor.

However, the court stated that it believed the journal had been written after Mr. Leonard’s arrest so as to offer extenuating circumstances to the court in order to lessen the prisoner’s sentence.

“This journal was nothing more than a tissue of lies produced as you failed to accept responsibility for your dishonesty,” the court said as it pronounced a sentence of ten months imprisonment.

Home invasion in Harare: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 16, 2011 p 8. September 21, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Harare was the victim of a home invasion last week, after four men entered his home on the evening of 8 September, robbing the bishop and his wife.

It is unclear whether the thefts were politically motivated. Bishop Chad Gandiya and the Church of the Province of Central Africa have been locked in a violent struggle with former bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga, an ally of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF Party, over the control of church assets.

The assault comes amidst continuing waves of political violence in the Central Africa country. On 1 September, Colin Zietsman, one of the country’s few remaining white commercial farmers, was murdered on his Centenary Farm in Mashonaland Central’s Centenary district.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) released a statement on 10 September reporting that in the latest instance of political intimidation, two of its members had been hospitalized “after they were abducted and assaulted by Zanu-PF hooligans.”

Harare police spokesman Inspector James Sabau offered the known facts on the attack on the Bishop in a statement printed by Newsday. “The complainant [Bishop Chad Gandiya] was confronted by four people who entered his home through an unlocked lounge room door armed with stones, knives and machetes.

“They ordered the complainant and his family to lie down and they complied. The robbers then asked for money and they were given $600.”

The thieves ransacked the house, taking three laptop computers, four mobile phones and jewellery, the police said and “then locked the complainant and his family in the bathroom.”

The Bishop was able to free himself and reported the thefts to the Marlborough Police Station.

The police statement noted: “We are having problems of both plain and armed robberies. They are entering through unlocked doors between 6pm and 9pm. “That is the new trend that is there now and we urge people to lock their doors all the time to avoid robberies, especially in the low density suburbs.”

In an email to supporters, Bishop Gandiya reported that the thieves “threatened to kill us if we did not give them money. They searched my son’s bedroom and ours for money and any valuables they could get. They literally trashed our bedroom. They took my laptop and my son’s two laptops and all our cell phones.”

“We rejoice and thank God that none of us were hurt. We simply did what they told us to do,” the Bishop said, but added he was “very suspicious of this robbery. It seems what they were after were just the laptops and phones. I am a little challenged in as far as communication is concerned at the moment. Although we are afflicted in every way, we are not crushed and we do not lose hope.”

Martial law in Trinidad: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 6. September 14, 2011

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Kamla Persad-Bissessar

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Crime was the greatest scourge facing the West Indies today, the Archdeacon of Barbados told the island nation’s legal community at a ‘Red Mass’ marking the start of the legal year and must be countered by a national dialogue on its moral and social causes.

Archdeacon Eric Lynch’s Sept 5 call for action came one day after neighboring Trinidad & Tobago held a rare Sunday sitting of Parliament, which voted to extend the country’s state of emergency imposed last month to battle the Caribbean country’s criminal gangs.

Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told Parliament the state of emergency has “worked” and prevented “a criminal uprising of untold proportions.”

The two-island nation is under an 11 p.m to 4 a.m. curfew and the security services have been given the authority to search suspects and property without a warrant.  The army has also joined the police in patrolling high crime areas.  The prime minister told Parliament the state of emergency had greatly reduced serious crime and resulted in 1,356 arrests as of Sept 4, including 33 homicide arrests.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday said his party opposed the state of emergency, warning that if it failed “then the criminals have won and you have played your trumps.”

Martial law was a disproportionate response to the Trinidad crime wave, Mr. Panday said, which has spawned 280 murders this year, including 11 deaths over the weekend of Aug 20-21.

In his sermon at Barbados’ St Mary’s Church, Archdeacon Lynch said sin and a materialistic culture were the cause of the West Indian criminal culture.  Taking back society from criminals was a two-pronged project—good policing and the moral regeneration of souls, the archdeacon said.

Overseas church leaders respond to the London riots: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 19, 2011 p 7. August 24, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican leaders in the UK and overseas have offered their prayers and support to those in the Church of England ministering to the victims of last week’s riots.

The Archbishop of Wales called for calm in Cardiff, pleading for his fellow countrymen not to emulate the violence in England, while the Bishop of Down and Dromore writing from Belfast said Ulster’s history of communal violence gave the Church of Ireland some sense of the turmoil facing England.

In an interview with BBC Wales broadcast on Aug 12, Dr. Barry Morgan said he hoped the start of the sporting season would not see outbursts of rioting in Wales.

“We have a good tradition in Cardiff [that] when there is a rugby match on that there is no violence. I hope that tradition persists because it would be dreadful if what we’ve seen happening in England were to spread to Wales. I hope the television footage of the immense damage that has been caused to human life during these riots will make people think twice about behaving in such a way,” Dr. Morgan said.

The archbishop added that he believed it was important to get at the root causes of last week’s violence. “I don’t want to condone the behaviour of those who have destroyed property or killed people. On the other hand I believe we have to ask deeper questions. What causes young people, and really young people, to behave in such a desperate way, to behave in a way which they think is acceptable,” Dr. Morgan asked.

The rioters were not so much depraved as deprived, he observed. “What causes people to feel so desperate that they can go out and not care about the consequences? There are pockets of our cities that are totally deprived, where our poor feel they have nothing to lose. I think therefore we have to look at that deeper question,” Dr. Morgan told the BBC.

On Aug 10 Dr. Harold Miller, the Bishop of Down and Dromore stated that “coming from a part of the United Kingdom which has experienced many occasions of rioting over the past decades, we in Ulster are still shocked and saddened by the scenes of devastation we have witnessed on television and the internet in English cities over the last days.”

The people of Ulster stood in “solidarity with the victims – people who are in fear of their safety, their lives and their businesses,” he said, adding that he thought it important not to engage in sociological speculation as to the motives of the looters.

“However we interpret these events, we will be praying for great wisdom for the police, for the establishment of a society where all feel that they have worth, and for the stabilising grace of God to be known in the cities which have been affected.”

Church leaders across the developing world have also expressed their concern for those afflicted by the riots. However, after the looting subsided some overseas church leaders reported the misfortunes of England had been a source of pleasure in some quarters.

One bishop shared a joke that is currently in vogue in Pakistan. “Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani to British PM David Cameron:

‘We are very concerned about your nuclear weapons. These may fall into the hands of unruly, mobs running riot unchecked, currently. The world needs to be reassured that your nukes are safe’.”

Bishop mourns Jamaica’s ‘culture of death’: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2011 July 29, 2011

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Bishop Robert Thompson of Kingston

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Kingston has denounced the island’s “culture of death,” saying Jamaica was turning into a dystopia ruled by gang violence, corruption and greed.

Speaking at the funeral of 17-year old Khajeel Mais at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston on July 16, Bishop Robert Thompson said the young man’s death was symbolic of the nation’s woes. “Morality is eroded,” he told the congregation, and Jamaica had become a place “where life is disposed of in favour of the symbols” of prosperity.

“We live in a society that embraces a culture of death from which we must repent. It makes us numb to justice,” said the bishop.

On July 1 Mais, a passenger in a taxi, was shot to death by a man driving a BMW X5 after the taxi scratched the side of the luxury car.   A student at Kingston College, Mais was on his way to a school fete when the shooting took place.  He died shortly after being admitted to hospital.

Speaking to a packed cathedral congregation that included students from the college, family and friends, Bishop Thompson said Mais’ death was not only an abomination, but was a tipping point in the collapse of the social order.

“The expression of outrage by the public is causing a shift in our society,” the bishop said.

He urged Jamaicans to stand up to those who sought power or wealth through the barrel of a gun.

“They can kill, but cannot kill the soul,” he said.

Bishop Thompson added that silence in face of evil, made one complicit with evil, warning those who were part of the “conspiracy of silence” that surrounded criminals were as “much to blame as those who pulled the trigger.”

The only way forward, the bishop said, was to turn towards God.  Taking as his text the 10th chapter of Matthew, the bishop reminded the congregation that the one who stands firm in his faith to the end will be saved. “Let us face our fear of violence in our society with faith as Christians, when terror and death” surround us, Bishop Thompson said.

Jamaica close to despair, bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, June 3, 2011 p 8. June 3, 2011

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Bishop Alfred Reid of Jamaica

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Jamaica has accused members of the island’s government of collusion with the criminal underworld.  Jamaica was close to despair, Dr. Alfred Reid said last week, with little to distinguish government from organized crime.

However, statistics released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) showed that violent crime declined over the last year, for the first time since 1999.

“What is the state of our Jamaican society at this time?” Dr. Reid asked delegates attending the 141st diocesan synod in Falmouth.  The “lines” between the state and the “criminal underworld” had “blurred”, he said.

Jamaicans did not know “who to trust and who to fear, where an honest person must compete with extortionists of various types and where the underground economy is probably bigger than the official one.”

The unofficial economy was being “skillfully manipulated by a few” for their own benefit, “while another group called taxpayers are required to pay not only for all the social benefits they enjoy but also for the high cost of corruption,” the bishop said.

The climax of Jamaica’s crime wave appears to have crested last year, after the JCF supported by the army launched a military-style raid against criminal gangs in the Tivoli section of Kingston.  In a week’s fighting, 73 gunmen and police were killed, but the power of the gangs was broken in West Kingston.

A January press release from the JCF stated: “All major crimes (murders, shooting, rape, carnal abuse, robbery, break-ins, and larceny) declined in 2010, when compared to 2009, by an overall seven per cent. This is the first time since 1999 (eleven years) that the national crime statistics are showing a reduction in all major crimes.”

“Murder, which is considered to be the key crime indicator, decreased by 15 per cent in 2010 compared with 2009. There were 1428 reported murders in 2010 against 1682 in 2009, a decrease of 254 in 2010 compared with 2009,” the police reported, while murders in Tivoli fell by 42 per cent in the months after the police raid.

The police were too quick to congratulate themselves, Dr. Reid said.  Only one in five murders was solved in 2010, and although Jamaica was no longer the murder capital of the world, the 1428 murders reported in 2010 should be measured against the rate of 142 per year in 1971, when Jamaica’s crime rate was lower than that of the United States.

“Imagine congratulating ourselves on the dramatic reduction in crime while the incidence of vicious and violent crime is still way beyond the level any civilised country should tolerate,” Dr. Reid said.

“The dark demonic nature of these brutal and sub-human acts leave no one in the society free from deep anxiety and fear,” the bishop said.

Call for prayer following Rio school shootings: The Church of England Newspaper, April 15, 2011 p 7. April 18, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Rio de Janeiro have expressed their deep sadness in the wake of last week’s school shooting that left 12 children dead.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta said he “deplored what happened. I am praying and uniting my sorrow with all those who were killed, and with their parents, families and friends.”

The primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, Archbishop Mauricio de Andrade commented that “in this tragedy, people close and people far away are sorry and are united in pain with the parents of the 12 murdered children. We too, from the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, are sorry and praying to God that He may comfort these families, wipe their tears and renew their hope in the resurrection.”

City spokesman Evandro Bezerra said Wellington Menezes de Oliveira (23) arrived at the Tasso da Silveira elementary school, where he had studied as a child, and was “well dressed and carrying a backpack” on the morning of April 7.

De Oliveira told school officials he had been invited to speak with students for a conference, but once inside the school he climbed to the third floor of building and began shooting.

Two students were able to escape from the building and alerted two policemen nearby.  They exchanged gunfire with de Oliveira, hitting him in the leg.  The gunmen then turned his pistol on himself and took his life.  Twelve students were killed, and twelve others wounded in the rampage.

Mr. Bezerra said de Oliveira “came to the school prepared to do what he did. The letter that was found on him is something that no normal person would write. It is an incomprehensible letter written by an eccentric person, by someone who has no love for life.”

“The moment is of pain,” Archbishop de Andrade said

“Pain for the parents of Larissa, Bianca, Géssica, Karine, Marissa, Samira, Ana Carolina, Luiza Paula, Laryssa, Milena and Rafael,” he said.

“Our prayer today is that ‘God, in all his kindness and mercy, comfort all these families in their pain, hold them together in His love so that they may be strengthen by his Grace. That they trust in His mercy and face the future days with courage and confidence in God’s Grace’,” the archbishop said.

Death threats may be linked to chaplain’s murder: The Church of England Newspaper, April 1, 2011 p 8. April 2, 2011

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Bishop Jo Seoka of Pretoria

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Death threats made against the Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt. Rev. Jo Seoka, may be linked to the unsolved January murder of the bishop’s chaplain.

On March 15, the South African Council of Churches reported that “five men armed with guns arrived at Bishop Seoka’s Pretoria home, declaring their intention to kill the bishop and his wife.”

“The Bishop and his wife were not at home at the time, but the intruders returned later in the day looking for them,” the SACC said.  The following day “two different people telephoned the Bishop’s home enquiring from those present about the Bishop’s whereabouts. The callers reiterated their threats against the Bishop and left a message that he should pack and leave the house.”

The SACC speculated the death threats may have been politically motivated.  It noted that Bishop Seoka, who is president of the SACC, “has long been an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice and a courageous opponent of corruption and unethical business practices in his capacity as a leader of the ecumenical movement.”

However, the Pretoria News reports the death threats may be linked to the murder of the bishop’s lay chaplain, Ntombekaya September.

On Jan 7 the body of Ms September (45), a prominent property developer who recently became the first lay chaplain to the Bishop of Pretoria, was discovered in her home by Bishop Soeka and her maid.

The police have withheld details of the murder, but police are seeking a Congolese man who worked for a security company and was known to the dead woman.  Following her death, a number of people close to the murdered woman began receiving spam emails from her email address—it is unknown if the emails are related to her murder.

The bishop discovered the body of Ms. September, after he was contacted by her servant, who was unable to enter her home.  The bishop and the servant searched the home and found Ms. September, lying face down on her bed, fully clothed.

Bishop Seoka said “we have tried to identify who our enemy might be but we cannot come up with anybody.”

“People are also saying these threats might be related to the murder but I do not want to believe that,” the bishop said.

Copper thieves cause gas leak at Darlington church: The Church of England Newspaper, April 1, 2011 p 6. April 1, 2011

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Holy Trinity, Darlington

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A Darlington church almost became a deathtrap for its churchwardens, after thieves stole copper gas pipes from Holy Trinity Church—causing a gas leak.

When churchwardens entered the building on the morning of March 23 to prepare for a funeral, they were met with the strong smell of gas.  The building required a full airing before the service could go forward later that day.

The priest in charge of Holy Trinity, the Ven. Nick Barker, the Archdeacon of Auckland in the Diocese of Durham, told his local newspaper that while some regarded metal theft as a “victimless crime”, but “it’s the wardens who have to spend two days mopping up the mess, and the little old ladies who keep the church running who suffer.”

“There is a real threat on the capacity of the church as a whole to sustain the present level of theft that is going on,” he said.

On March 31, Archdeacon Barker and other church leaders will meet with representatives from the Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces, English Heritage and the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG) in Bournmoor, County Durham to discuss strategies to fight metal thefts.

Many northern churches have been victims of theft, Archdeacon Barker said, some “several times.”

“The insurance cover has had to be limited and any repair is vexatious, time consuming, morale sapping and costly,” he said, adding that “repeated attacks threaten the long-term future of some churches and church communities.”

Archbishop calls for supression of sex slave trade: The Church of England Newspaper, March 25, 2011 p 7. March 30, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of York has applauded the government’s decision to rethink its policies on combating human trafficking and join forces with the EU in combating sex slavery.

On March 22 Immigration Minister Damian Green announced the government will apply to opt in to a Europe-wide effort to help tackle human trafficking.  “Opting in” to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking sends “a powerful message to traffickers that Britain is not a soft touch and that we remain world leaders in fighting this terrible crime,” the minister said.

Last year Dr. John Sentamu expressed dismay at the government’s decision to ‘opt out’ of the EU Directive. Writing in the Yorkshire Post on Sept 3 the archbishop said that “sex trafficking is nothing more than modern day slavery. This is women being exploited, degraded and subjected to horrific risks solely for the gratification and economic greed of others.”

He said he was “stunned to learn” of the coalition government’s decision.  “Generally, I am no great supporter of European directives, because of the supremacy of our Parliament, but this seems to be a common-sense directive designed to co-ordinate European efforts to combat the trade in sex slaves,” the archbishop said.

However the news this week of the government’s change of heart “delighted” Dr. Sentamu.  “I am pleased the Government now acknowledges that ‘opting in would send a powerful message to traffickers that Britain is not a soft touch’. Our Government should be ensuring Britain leads the way on tackling slavery, just like it did in the days of William Wilberforce,” he said.

“We need a united front against the traffickers, pimps and gangsters – and we must speak out for those that don’t have a voice. There should be no loopholes for those abusing and terrorizing the vulnerable,” the archbishop said, adding that he was pleased Britain “will now be joining with our European brothers and sisters and put an end to this evil trade.”

“At a time when fewer traffickers are being jailed than at any other time in the last 5 years, we need ambitious and binding legislation to make anti-trafficking policy more effective,” Dr. Sentamu said.

Mr. Green said Britain already carried out most of the EU measures to combat trafficking.  The government’s decision not to opt in last year, he explained, was due to the need to review the final text to “ensure that it would benefit the UK. This has now taken place,” said a statement released by the Home Office.

“Tackling human trafficking is a priority for the Government. The UK has an excellent record on fighting human trafficking and the organised criminals who profit from misery,” the immigration minister said.

Metal thefts force change in insurance cover from EIG: The Church of England Newspaper, March 25, 2011 p 6. March 28, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG) has announced that it will withdraw insurance cover for metal thefts effective July 1, for churches that do not use the SmartWater system to mark their metal roofing.

In a statement released last week, EIG reported that over the past four years it had paid out over £21 million to cover over 7,000 metal theft claims.  The church insurer expected the “epidemic” of metal thefts to continue due to high scrap prices for copper and lead.  Claims submitted for the year to date are already at a “level higher than expected for this time of year.”

Using the SmartWater system was a current condition of insurance cover, EIG noted, but many churches had not used the SmartWater kit sent to them in 2007, or if they had, they had not registered the product, which allows police to identify stolen metal.  As a result EIG was withdrawing metal theft coverage from churches that did not apply SmartWater, display SmartWater warning signs, or register their kits with the company, as of July 1.

SmartWater is a solution of a vinyl acetate polymer in isopropyl alcohol which contains millions of minute particles.  The particles are etched with a unique serial number which can be registered with police to show the owner’s details.  The particles can be read under ultra-violet light and are resistant to the effects of weather and corrosion.

A study published in 2008 of interviews with criminals found that 74 per  cent would be put off from stealing metals marked with SmartWater if they knew the substance was present.  Sales literature distributed by the company claims that over 600 convictions have been possible due to the evidence provided by SmartWater marking.

EIG said parishes that have complied with the SmartWater policy conditions in their insurance policies will not be affected by the change, and will be covered to their policy limits.

Leesfield vicar convicted of theft: The Church of England Newspaper, March 25, 2011 p 6. March 24, 2011

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Manchester Bishop Nigel McCulloch and the Rev. Vaughan Leonard

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Oldham magistrates’ court has convicted a Manchester vicar on two counts of theft.

On March 16, the Rev. Vaughan Leonard plead guilty to diverting to his own pockets over £14,000 in fees paid to conduct weddings and funerals.

The court heard that Mr. Leonard’s peculations began a week after took office at St Thomas Church in Leesfield in June 2006.  Evidence was presented that from 2006 to his departure in 2009 the vicar pocketed £7,484 in funeral fees as well as £6,859 paid to him for reading marriage banns.

The thefts were discovered upon his departure as incumbent of St Thomas Leesfield, to become Priest in Charge of All Saints, Rhodes.  The parish council asked for an accounting of fees paid to Mr. Leonard during his tenure that should have been turned over to the parish.  After the funds were found to be missing and Mr. Leonard was unable to make good the loss, the police were notified of the theft.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester said: “We expect our clergy to be honest in their dealings with money and it is highly unusual for this trust to be broken. Mr. Leonard is now prohibited from exercising any duties as a vicar.”

Mr. Leonard will come before Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court for sentencing on April 5.

Diocesan finance officer imprisoned: The Church of England Newspaper, March 18, 2011 p 8. March 21, 2011

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Mark Pilkington

First published in The Church of England Newspaper

A former member of the Diocese of Sodor & Man’s finance board has been sentenced to 20-months imprisonment for theft.

Last week the Court of General Gaol in Douglas on the Isle of Man imposed sentence on Mark Pilkington (39) following his conviction on seven counts of deception and six of false accounting.

A compliance officer at Royal Skandia, and a former staffer of the island’s pension authority, Pilkington admitted stealing £21,000 from the diocese while on its financial board, and £23,000 from the Manx Festival Chorus while treasurer to the choir.

Mr. Pilkington admitted writing cheques to himself from the choir’s bank account, submitting false end-of-year reports and transferring diocese funds to his own accounts.

Diocesan spokesman the Rev. John Coldwell said after the sentence was handed down “the very sad thing is the breach of trust that comes about for all involved.  Where people have had a relationship with people, and trusted them implicitly.  From the church’s point of view it is a very difficult, very sad situation that we find has occurred here.”

He told Manx Radio the “judiciary system has taken its path” and it was now for the diocese to “support Mark, his family and friends” through these difficult times.

Rochdale vicar arrested on immigration fraud charges: The Church of England Newspaper, March 18, 2011 p 6. March 19, 2011

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Canon Patrick Magumba

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A Manchester vicar has been arrested for allegedly conducting hundreds of sham marriages to help immigrants fraudulently obtain visas.

On March 13, the Archdeacon of Rochdale told the congregation of St. Peter’s Church in Newbold, Rochdale, that their Team Vicar, Canon Patrick Magumba, had been arrested and the rectory and church searched by officers of the UK Border Agency in connection with an investigation of sham marriages in the North West.

Canon Magumba, a Ugandan immigrant and Team Vicar for the South Rochdale Team Ministry of St Peter’s, Newbold, St Luke’s Deeplish, and St Mary’s, Balderstone has since been released on bail.

A spokesman for the diocese confirmed Canon Magumba had been “questioned by the immigration crime team over irregularities in relation to weddings.

“He will continue to help the authorities with their enquiries over the coming weeks.”

“Following proper procedures,” Manchester Bishop Nigel McCulloch suspended Canon Magumba’s “licence to operate as a minister of religion while the investigations continue,” a church spokesman told the Manchester Evening News.

Last year the Rev. Alex Brown was convicted of having conducted almost 200 sham marriages at his East Sussex church, while two East London clergymen, the Rev. Brian Shipsides and the Rev. Elwon John were arrested for allegedly conducting sham marriages.

On March 13, 2010 the Crown Prosecution Service presented formal charges against the two Diocese of Chelmsford clergymen of conspiring to facilitate entry and to obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK in breach of immigration law by allegedly conducting approximately 200 sham marriages at All Saints Church, Forest Gate, between December 2007 and July 2010.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the alleged fake unions were between EU and non-EU residents.

The pair will appear at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on March 18.

By marrying a EU national, an immigrant is entitled to apply for permission to stay in Britain as a ‘spouse’, with access to free healthcare, education and benefits.

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