Japanese authorities have reportedly discovered the remains of a 17th century Italian Catholic priest, known as the "last missionary martyr" to Japan for his efforts to advance Christianity in one of the least Christian nations in the world.
"It is the first time we've found a near match of the bones of a foreign missionary," said Waseda University professor Akio Tanigawa. "This is an extremely important discovery for the history of Christianity in Japan."
Although the remains of Jesuit priest Giovanni Battista Sidotti were discovered back in April 2014 during excavation at the site of Krishitan Yashiki, they were not identified as belonging to the missionary until DNA matches were confirmed on Monday, the Japan Times reported. more >>
Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio has been put under fire for the past days after he expressed concerns over Indonesia's palm oil plantations and the effects on the environment. Despite the previous threat of being banned from the country, a minister has recently offered support for the actor's sentiments.
In an interview with Forest Hints, the country's Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Dr. Siti Nurbaya, said "My view is that DiCaprio's concerns are both sincere and substantial, and he has certainly acted in good faith. In fact, we share his concerns on this matter."
After visiting the Gunung Leuser National Park late last month, DiCaprio took to Instagram and gave awareness about the ongoing issues in the park. He mentioned the critical need to stop palm oil plantation expansions as the species living in the forest could possibly become endangered as their habitats slowly turn into plantations. more >>
The Chinese government has reportedly released from prison the Rev. Gu Yuese, the former leader of Hangzhou's Chongyi Church, the largest government sanctioned church in the country, ahead of President Xi Jinping's scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama.
Herald Malaysia Online reported that Gu, who was formally arrested on embezzlement charges, was held in detention for close to three months for speaking out against the government's church crosses demolition campaign, which has been going on for almost two years now.
The megachurch leader has been placed under "residential surveillance" following his release, which persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern warned means he is not entirely safe yet. more >>
Open Doors USA, a persecution watchdog group, has warned that world governments simply condemning attacks against Christians, such as the one on Easter Sunday in Pakistan where 73 people were killed, is not enough to save lives.
"Right now few leaders are offering more than condolences after major attacks on Christians," David Curry, CEO of Open Doors, told the Daily Beast. "They need to go to the countries, meet with its leaders and people to find bipartisan ways to protect Christians and promote religious freedom to all."
The attack in Lahore was carried out at an Easter fun fair park for families, and most of the victims in the suicide blast where women and children. A splinter group from the Taliban, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, has claimed responsibility and vowed that even more "devastating" attacks on Christians are coming. more >>
The Islamic radical group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has threatened that even more "devastating" attacks against Christians are coming, following the Easter Sunday bombing at a fun fair in Lahore, Pakistan, which killed 73 people, mostly women and children.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban group, told NBC News during an interview published Monday that the extremists are planning "more devastating attacks that will target Christians and other religious minorities as well as government installations."
Ehsan identified the suicide bomber who blew himself up in the Lahore attack as Salahuddin Khorasani, describing him as a martyr who "carried out the attack on the eve of the Christian festival Easter." more >>
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnalil, who was previously feared to have been crucified by the Islamic State on Good Friday, is alive, safe, and efforts are being organized for his release.
Catholic Bishops' Conference of India spokesman Father Gyanprakash Topno told the Press Trust of India that Swaraj met with CBCI delegates and told them that reports claiming Uzhunnalil has been killed are not true.
"Father Tom is safe and efforts are on for his release as early as possible," Topno said, conveying the minister's words, adding that the "government will facilitate the priest's safe return to India." more >>