The state of Georgia has executed a woman despite last-minute pleas for mercy, including one from Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis. The woman reportedly sang the Christian anthem "Amazing Grace" as she was put to death via lethal injection, witnesses said.
NBC News reported that Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 47, was executed shortly after midnight on Wednesday. Gissendaner had been put on death row for the 1997 stabbing murder of her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, at the hands of her lover. She became the first woman executed by the state in 70 years.
Gregory Owen, who carried out the killing, is serving a life prison sentence, and is not eligible for parole until 2022. more >>
Major sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, has left at least 24 people dead and over 100 wounded over the weekend.
"The events of [Saturday] and [Sunday] are very serious. We count many crimes against property and persons," Security Minister Dominique Said Paguindji said in an interview, according to Foreign Policy. "We will deal with this situation diplomatically to avoid civilian casualties that would add to the death toll."
The Telegraph reported that the violence broke out after a Muslim taxi driver was found murdered wth his body dumped near an airport. The local Muslim population blamed Christian militiamen known as the Anti-Balaka for kidnapping the driver, and decided to attack the nearby Christian neighborhood of Miskine with automatic weapons, machetes and grenades, leading to a major clash. more >>
Pope Francis spent time on Sunday during the last day of his U.S. visit to meet with five adults who had been sexually abused by Roman Catholic clergy as children, declaring that he remains "overwhelmed with shame" at what was done to the victims. A survivor's group has criticized the meeting as a "feel good, do nothing" gesture.
"I hold the stories and the suffering and the sorry of children who were sexually abused by priests deep in my heart. I remain overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm. I am profoundly sorry. God weeps," Francis told bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania.
The Vatican leader reportedly met three women and two men who had been abused as children during a half-an-hour meeting. The pope spoke with the victims, listened to their stories, and prayed with them. He also thanked them for revealing the truth, and promised that the Church will do all it can to bring those guilty to justice. more >>
By visiting a Philadelphia prison on Sunday, Pope Francis highlighted America's broken criminal justice system, a crisis that will continue to burden poor and vulnerable communities unless addressed.
Ministry to prisoners has been a hallmark of Francis's papacy. He has consistently called Christians to visit prisoners — and to help create a fairer, more restorative criminal justice system.
Christians urgently need to pay attention to criminal justice issues. America has 2.3 million people locked up; 2.7 million children have a parent in prison; and 65 million Americans have a criminal record. Even the portraits of success, those who pay their debt to society and leave crime behind, continue to bear a "second sentence" — the endless stigma and regulations that limit what jobs they can do, where they can live, what benefits they can receive, and whether or not they can vote. more >>
WASHINGTON – There has been a huge upsurge in the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, reported a group of pro-life movement leaders at a large conservative gathering on Saturday.
At a panel that was part of the annual Values Voters Summit, pro-life activists noted that efforts to defund Planned Parenthood were gaining momentum in large part because of a series of undercover videos released by the California-based Center for Medical Progress.
Lila Rose, founder of LiveAction, told those gathered at the Empire Room of the Omni Shoreham Hotel that it was a "powerful and exciting time" for the movement. more >>
Members of El Tabernaculo de Fe, a large Hispanic Oklahoma City congregation, are now reportedly arguing with each other as their pastor, Rev. Velio Estrada, is locked in a legal battle with the Oklahoma City District Council of the Assemblies of God over who has rights to the church, as well as the management of the church's money.
Recently filed court records cited by KOCO.com said there have been heated arguments within the church, with some members even filing protective orders against others. One church member claimed to have received threats, but did not provide details.
Information cited from court records in an earlier report said the District Council had asked Estrada to step down after concerns were raised by church leaders over missing equipment which was sold despite a judge's order. The pastor was also alleged to have committed adultery. more >>