Chris Harper Mercer, the reclusive 26-year-old identified as the gunman who went on a bloody shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College killing 10 and wounding seven others in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday targeted Christians, according to the father of one of his shooting victims.
Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, 18, who was shot in the back by a bullet that traveled down her spine, recounted the chilling ordeal to her father before she went into surgery, CNN reported.
Mercer entered her classroom firing his weapon and before shooting the professor teaching the class he declared: "I've been waiting to do this for years." more >>
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 >>