China city halts grave clearing campaign

Updated 21 November 2012
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China city halts grave clearing campaign

BEIJING: A Chinese city has halted a campaign to clear graves for farmland after the demolition of more than two million tombs sparked outrage in a country where ancestors are traditionally held in deep respect. Zhoukou in the central province of Henan demolished the graves this year as part of a “flatten graves to return farmland” campaign, the Beijing News reported yesterday.
The newspaper quoted a local official as saying the campaign had stopped, after revised regulations on funeral management removed the government’s right to “use force” to “correct” the construction of graves.
Local officials were ordered to set an example by demolishing their family tombs, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. The grave-flattening prompted an outcry on Chinese Internet sites, with thousands posting messages opposing the campaign.
“Burying the dead has always been a sign of our level of civilization, this campaign shows our country has lost its moral foundations,” wrote one user of Sina Weibo, a website similar to Twitter. The 21st Century Business Herald, however, questioned whether two million tombs were actually flattened, citing the city government as saying in September that just over 400,000 had been demolished.

 


French priest suspended after slapping baby during baptism

Video shows priest slapping crying baby.
Updated 23 June 2018
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French priest suspended after slapping baby during baptism

  • The baby’s parents, visibly shocked, eventually manage to extricate the child from the priest’s grip
  • The child was bawling and I needed to turn his head so I could pour the water

PARIS: A French Catholic priest was suspended Friday after a video of him smacking a crying baby during a baptism ceremony went viral, drawing widespread condemnation on social media.
In footage posted on Twitter on Thursday, gasps can be heard when the 89-year-old priest, after ordering the infant he is holding to “be quiet,” sharply slaps his cheek.
A few seconds later he smacks him again.
The baby’s parents, visibly shocked, eventually manage to extricate the child from the priest’s grip during the ceremony in Champeaux, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Paris.
“This loss of self-control can be attributed to the fatigue of an elderly priest, but that doesn’t excuse it,” the diocese of Meaux, which includes the town, said in a statement.
It said the priest would no longer be leading baptisms and weddings nor holding mass until further notice.
“The child was bawling and I needed to turn his head so I could pour the water. I was saying ‘be quiet’ but he wouldn’t calm down,” the priest told France Info radio on Friday.
“It was something between a caress and a little slap,” he said. “I was trying to calm him down, I didn’t really know what to do.”