Global Issues

VIDEO: Water Everlasting?

In 2014, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) premiered Water Everlasting? The Battle to Secure Haiti’s Most Essential Resource, a documentary film addressing concerns about Haiti’s public water system.

Government agencies and charitable organizations have spent decades attempting to provide clean water to Haiti, but administrative weaknesses often impede these efforts. The 2010 earthquake exacerbated the problem. Suddenly, millions of people lacked access to safe drinking water, and waterborne diseases reached epic proportions.

Yet, despite the many instances of lack, there is good being done in Haiti in various capacities. Read “On a Firm Foundation” to learn of the many positive accomplishments of Haitians working in their own neighborhoods. 

What will it take to keep water flowing in Haiti? How can Haitians take charge? These are a few of the questions explored in the film. See all 25 minutes of it here. 

See the trailer to Water Everlasting? below: 


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Nigerian Archbishop Calls for Unity Marches Following Boko Haram Massacres

Photo via Simon Caldwell / Catholic News Service / RNS

Nigerian Roman Catholic Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama. Photo via Simon Caldwell / Catholic News Service / RNS

Nigerian Roman Catholic Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama says his country needs a similar march to the one held in Paris on Jan. 11 to pay tribute to victims of Islamist militant attacks.

While 20 people were killed in the Paris rampage (including three terrorists), Boko Haram’s ongoing campaign of terror in Nigeria has left hundreds dead. Last week, as many as 2,000 were killed as Boko Haram militants took over the town of Baga in Borno state.

Kaigama said he wants the international community to show determination to stop the advance of militants, who are indiscriminately killing Christians and Muslims and bombing villages, towns, churches, and mosques.

“I hope even here a great demonstration of national unity will take place, to say no to the violence and find a solution to the problems plaguing Nigeria,” Kaigama told Fides, a Catholic news agency.

France Ponders Its Response to Shootings: Will Xenophobia or Multiculturalism Win?

Photo via Elizabeth Bryant / RNS

Amina Tadjouri, right, with a friend in Paris during a demonstration on Jan. 11. Photo via Elizabeth Bryant / RNS

As France emerges from its worst terrorist attack in decades, a biting novel that imagines the country governed by Islamic law is part of a swirling debate about its basic values. Will the country respond to the shootings with fear and xenophobia, as suggested by the book “Soumission,” or “Submission” — or embrace its multicultural, multifaith identity?

On Jan. 11, solidarity was on display as heads of state and religious leaders joined millions on the streets of Paris in a massive march for free expression and to honor last week’s victims from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Along with “I am Charlie,” some protesters also chanted “I am Jewish” in tribute to the four men gunned down by one of the assailants at a kosher market.

Muslims carried signs saying, “I am Charlie and Muslim.” And on Twitter, thousands of French rallied behind “#JeSuisAhmed” — referring to policeman Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim, who also died in the attack on the magazine.

On the edge of the dense crowd, high school student Amina Tadjouri clasped a Jewish newspaper, as she stood next to a Muslim cleric railing against radical Islam.

“I’m Muslim, and I’m not OK with these killings,” she said. 

PHOTOS: Rebuilding Haiti

Children in a tent, Haiti 2014. Image courtesy Chuck Bigger, Compassion Internat

Children in a tent, Haiti 2014. Image courtesy Chuck Bigger, Compassion International.

Five years after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti on Jan.12, 2010, killing hundreds of thousands of people, Haitians are still working to rebuild the poorest country in the hemisphere.

In August, Sojourners Editor Jim Rice traveled to Haiti to meet with nonprofits, ministries, and residents. His reports from the trip became the cover story for Sojourners' February issue. For the week of Jan. 12 only, we've released the story from our paywall. Go here to read for FREE. 

See the slideshow of photos from the trip at the jump. 



5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Rubble after the earthquake in 2010. Image courtesy Haiti Partners.

Rubble after the earthquake in 2010. Image courtesy Haiti Partners.

On this 5th anniversary of the earthquake, I remember four-story buildings collapsed into a stack of concrete pancakes. I remember circling over Port-au-Prince in a small plane with other relief personnel six days after the earthquake, finally able to get there. I remember bodies being pulled from rubble. I remember how it seemed to take so long for rebuilding to start. People responded generously around the world, though the overall impact has been hard to track. It has been encouraging to see building and infrastructure progress the past couple of years. Still, the big picture can make my faith and hope go a bit wobbly.

It’s when I think of people — and when I start reflecting on the earthquake, people come first to mind — that the sadness comes on stronger, but so does the reason for faith and hope.

Oscar Romero Declared a Martyr as Vatican Inches Him Toward Sainthood

Photo of mural via Franco Folini / Flickr / RNS

Mural of slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero by Juana Alicia. Photo of mural via Franco Folini / Flickr / RNS

Archbishop Oscar Romero, the hero of the Catholic left who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass in El Salvador, is inching one step closer to sainthood after his case languished in bureaucratic limbo for decades.

According to the Italian Catholic bishops daily, Avvenire, a panel of theologians at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has ruled unanimously that Romero should be considered a martyr, or murdered “in odium fidei” (Latin for “hatred of faith”).

The paper reported the ruling was made on Jan. 7. The move is considered a decisive step on Romero’s path to sainthood.

Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was shot dead by right-wing death squads while celebrating Mass in March 1980. His murder came a day after he delivered a homily calling for soldiers to lay down their guns and end government repression in the country’s bloody civil war.

Persecution of Christians Reached Historic Levels in 2014. Will 2015 Be Worse?

Open Doors USA’s 2015 “World Watch List.” Image via Open Doors / RNS

Open Doors USA’s 2015 “World Watch List.” Image via Open Doors / RNS

From imprisonment to torture to beheadings, more Christians worldwide live in fear for their lives than at any time in the modern era.

That’s the message from Open Doors USA, which released its annual World Watch List on Jan. 7. Christian persecution reached historic levels in 2014, with approximately 100 million Christians around the world facing possible dire consequences for merely practicing their religion, according to the report. If current trends persist, many believe 2015 could be even worse.

“In regions where Christians are being persecuted as central targets, the trends and issues we track are expanding,” said David Curry, president of Open Doors, a nonprofit that aids persecuted Christians in the most oppressive countries and ranks nations based on the severity of persecution.

North Korea tops Open Doors’ list as the worst oppressor of Christians for the 13th consecutive year, but the list is dominated by African and Middle Eastern nations. Iraq, which experienced the mass displacement of Christians from its northern region, ranked third. Syria was listed fourth, due to the reign of ISIS in that war-torn region. Nigeria ranked 10th, due in part to the more than 1,000 Christians murdered or kidnapped by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram. Also included in the top 10 are Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, and Eritrea.

Nothing Religious About It

SINCE WAR BROKE out in the Central African Republic in March 2013, the international community has referred to it as a “religious conflict.” When the media cover the violence at all, they usually frame it as a story of Muslims against Christians. However, to call this conflict a war of religion is simplistic at best and a smokescreen for the real causes at worst.

That is the message that Central African Republic (CAR) faith leaders—Catholic, evangelical, and Muslim—have worked tirelessly to spread, at great personal cost. Imam Omar Kobine Layama, president of the Central African Islamic Community, Catholic Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, and Rev. Nicolas Guérékoyame-Gbangou, president of the Evangelical Alliance of the Central African Republic, have been at the forefront of their country’s peace and reconciliation movement.

During a November 2014 interview in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Nzapalainga adamantly refuted the “religious war” narrative.

“Our role is to continually remind our religious believers ... that those people who want to kill people or rape people ... are in contradiction with their faith,” he told Sojourners. “We, for example, have never been telling our believers that they should go out and kill Muslims, and the imam has never been telling his followers that they should go out and kill Christians.”

In 2013, Seleka, a group of militants predominantly identified as Muslim, overturned the government, causing widespread chaos and violence. In retaliation, anti-Balaka, a group of militants predominantly identified as Christians and animists, waged its own unspeakable violence. These are distortions, said the religious leaders. “People have used religion as a pretext, a cover for their ambitions of power,” the leaders wrote in a Time commentary.

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Want to See Pope Francis’ Vision for the Church? Look at His New Cardinals

Photo via neneo /

Photo via neneo /

Pope Francis reinforced his radical reshaping of the Catholic Church by naming 20 new cardinals from countries as far afield as Ethiopia, Tonga, Thailand, and Panama.

The clerics – who come from 18 different countries – include 15 who are eligible to vote for the pope’s successor in a future conclave, and five retired bishops and archbishops “distinguished for their pastoral charity” who are over age 80 and ineligible to select the next pontiff.

Dissatisfied with the slow pace of change in Rome, Francis’ appointments reflect his desire for “pastors on the front line of difficult situations,” one Vatican observer said, who can bring a new perspective from the often overlooked outposts of global Christianity.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the choices showed the pope’s most important criteria was “universality,” and indicated he was not “chained to tradition” as he moves the balance of power at the highest levels of the church closer to the developing world.

It is the first time ever that cardinals have been selected from Tonga, Myanmar, and Cape Verde to become “princes of the church.” There are only five Europeans included among the 15 new electors – two from Italy and three others from Corsica, Spain, and Portugal. The United States was shut out for the second time in a row.