The Rohingya of Burma are a desperate people. Considered “illegal immigrants” without basic citizenship rights by Rangoon, they subsist in impoverished townships and refugee camps where they live in constant fear of the threat of external violence.
As black smoke continued to rise above the Sistine Chapel earlier today, and as speculation bubbled in inverse proportion to the amount of information coming out of the Vatican about the papal conclave (that is, given the secrecy surrounding it, virtually none), journalists were faced with the task of finding something to do to 'keep the story alive'.
Quite stealthily, and without an electoral mandate, since 2010 the government has proceeded to dismantle the welfare state, and privatise the NHS, the state education system, even the fire service. But for some, it has not been radical enough, or fast enough. Hence the reappearance of Liam Fox, who left the Cabinet in disgrace in 2011.
This morning the 115 cardinals begin their period in conclave, where they will choose the next pontiff of the 1.2 billion strong Roman Catholic Church, by celebrating Mass before beginning their deliberations in the Sistine Chapel.
But who are the men who will seek a common mind on the new leader of the largest Christian communion in the world?
BBC Newsnight finally offered a different perspective on the Catholic Church on the eve of the conclave to choose the next pope (11 March 2013), profiling a remarkable and inspirational Mexican bishop.
It is widely assumed that the next pope, whoever it is, will be of a highly conservative disposition, because both Benedict XVI and John Paul II ensured that the College of Cardinals that now exists was shaped firmly in that direction.
Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority has faced a hate campaign in recent months. The Friday Forum, a citizens’ group which includes former Anglican Bishop of Colombo Duleep de Chickera, has written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa calling on him to act. The letter reads as follows:
As well as an opportunity to re-evaluate priorities, re-set our goals and pathways, and look at what we might fruitfully take up and usefully give up, the period of Lent in the Christian tradition is one of deepening our wrestling with the heart and with God (or prayer, as it is usually known).
Not long ago, a solicitor who has recently started attending Quaker Meetings for Worship told me that over a lifetime of practice, he had on many occasions been impressed by Friends who would put themselves at a legal and financial disadvantage by strict adherence to the truth. Although this is by no means a virtue confined to Quakers, its absence is perhaps more common than its presence and has in recent weeks, come into sharp political focus.