Eric Lomax, whose memoir The Railway Man recounted his experiences as a British prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, died Oct. 8 at age 93. Lomax, who suffered beatings and torture at the hands of his captors, was among the thousands of POWs forced to build the Burma Railway. Years after the war Lomax began looking for one of his worst tormentors—interpreter Nagase Takashi. When the two met in 1993 on the bridge over the River Kwai, Nagase offered apologies and Lomax extended forgiveness. A movie based on Lomax’s book is slated for release next year.
British cell biologist Keith Campbell, who along with colleague Ian Wilmut successfully cloned the first mammal, died Oct. 5 at age 58. The 1997 debut of Dolly the sheep sparked intense controversy and spurred several nations to ban human cloning.
Barbara Hodel, who along with her husband Don supported and served numerous Christian groups including the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, and Patrick Henry College, died Oct. 11 at age 77. The Hodels became Christians following the 1974 suicide of their teenage son, Philip, and used their story to encourage other families coping with the loss of loved ones to suicide. In 2007 Barbara suffered a fall that left her paralyzed.
A Pennsylvania judge on Oct. 9 sentenced former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, 68, to between 30 and 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys. All of the victims came from disadvantaged homes and were boys he was supposed to be helping through his charity for troubled youth, The Second Mile. Sandusky, who during the hearing remained unrepentant as he professed innocence in a rambling, 15-minute statement, will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. He plans to appeal.
Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler Paolo Gabriele, 46, will spend 18 months under house arrest after a Vatican court convicted him Oct. 6 of stealing the pope’s personal papers and then leaking them to the media. Throughout the trial, Gabriele insisted his actions were intended to expose allegations of corruption within the church: “I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the Holy Father, whom I love as a son would.” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said a papal pardon is likely.
A record 1,586 U.S. pastors participated in the fifth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Oct. 7 by speaking in their sermons about political candidates and their positions on biblical issues. Sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the initiative is meant to challenge a 1954 IRS rule prohibiting tax-exempt organizations like churches from making political endorsements. Participating clergy this year came from both sides of the political aisle. At Living Stones Church in Crown Point, Ind., senior pastor Ron Johnson Jr. called congregants to change the leadership of the White House and condemned the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate as “tyrannical.”