The president of the Council of Churches in Namibia, Reinhard Keding, expressed doubts about the usefulness of a truth commission similar to that in South Africa in helping Namibians come to terms with the past. Keding, dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, said the wounds in Namibian society are still new and one shouldn't expect things for which the people aren't ready. Keding proposed instead a forum at which everyone would have the right to express an opinion without accusing or being accused.
Pope John Paul II welcomed Fidel Castro, president of Cuba, to Vatican City and accepted Castro's invitation to Cuba next year. The pope told Castro that he should seek "reconciliation" among all his political opponents.
After two and a half years in exile, Rwandan refugees broke the Hutu militia hold on them and their camp. Zairean rebel attacks and the growing certainty of international intervention pushed the militia to retreat from its holdout in Muganga camp. This time, according to a report from the Rwanda-Zaire border, the refugees refused to run with the militia. The refugees' choice to return home alters a more than two-year status quo, denying the militia and former Rwandan government the human shield they have used for political leverage and military protection.The Lutheran World Federation has been a major provider of relief in the refugee camps.
Katakshama Paul Raj, the first woman to serve as bishop of a Lutheran church in Asia, was installed as bishop of the Good Samaritan Evangelical Lutheran Church in India. That raises the number of Lutheran women bishops to seven worldwide-two each in the United States and Denmark, and one each in Germany, Norway and India.
Vehicles used by the Lutheran World Federation and the United Nations were set on fire and four people were killed by armed men in Pakele, a village in northern Uganda. The LWF is in the area as part of the U.N. agency's project to resettle Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.
A worship service and groundbreaking ceremony were held in October for the new building at Luther Seminary in Shingal, Korea. The building is necessary for Luther Seminary to attain full accreditation from the Korean Ministry of Education and to be able to grant the Bachelor of Theology degree at the college level.
More than 20 million North Koreans face a famine worse than that expected by the people of Ethiopia, said Nan Hudson of the United Church of Canada. A delegation from the church found people starving on half the daily minimum ration of rice they need to live. The situation could be worse than famines elsewhere because North Korea is a closed country. The delegation said the critical period for aid will be from March to October.
A week after proclaiming his solidarity with the Southern Baptist Convention and making a $1,000 contribution to a new conservative Southern Baptist group in Virginia, Jerry Falwell, said that his 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Va., will remain independent.
Pope John Paul II has given his support to the scientific concept of evolution, saying the idea is compatible with Christian faith but arguing that creation is still the work of God.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, spoke of the significance of the consensus being sought between Lutherans and Roman Catholics regarding doctrine of justification on a radio program broadcast by Radio Vatican. The declaration will serve as the foundation for future documents that deal with issues such as the eucharist and ministry. The cardinal did not refer to the recent decision of the Lutheran World Federation council to defer ratification of the proposed joint declaration from 1997 to 1998.
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