Religion news 13 December 2023

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Cop28 failings is not how the story ends. People of faith must redouble efforts to halt climate change

As Cop28 negotiations continued through the night with nations locked in disagreement over how to deal with fossil fuels, faith organisations have been told they have a key role in moving forward progress on climate change. Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and director of the Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development, told a Religion Media Centre briefing that the crisis was not just about science and materials, but had spiritual roots connected with interdependence and creation. “Until religion gets fully on board in curbing climate change, we’re not going to see a solution to the problem”. Rabbi Neril was among the leaders of the Faith Pavilion, which ran in parallel with Cop28, with a programme of events on religion and climate change. Faith organisations have been in the vanguard of a campaign to end the use of fossil fuels, with the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt, backing the proposal in speeches at the summit. Dr Lorna Gold, CEO of FaithInvest told the briefing that the disagreement over fossil fuels at Cop28 was “a really serious setback in the journey. But as people of faith, we’re going to redouble our efforts.” Article on the briefing here and recording on our YouTube channel  here.

Jesuit Refugee Service calls for Bibby Stockholm barge to be closed

The Jesuit Refugee Service UK has repeated calls for the government to close the Bibby Stockholm barge docked off Portland in Dorset, where asylum seekers are being housed, after a man died there on Tuesday in a reported suicide. Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK said: “These are the real human consequences of deliberate and performative cruelty against people seeking sanctuary in the UK. The government must immediately stop placing people on the Bibby Stockholm, and instead ensure they can access safe and dignified accommodation in our communities.”

CofE blessings for same sex couples allowed from Sunday 17 December

A selection of readings and prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples can be used in Church of England services for the first time from Sunday, 17 December, following approval by the House of Bishops. The Church of England has published the text of Prayers of Love and Faith and pastoral guidance on how they can be  used. There are also words for stand alone services for same sex couples, but this is written in italics until the CofE gives formal permission for their use.

Islamic Relief warns its workers in Gaza are running out of food

Islamic Relief warns that its own humanitarian aid workers in Gaza are running out of food for themselves and their children, as Israel’s bombing campaign besieges the territory and limited aid is allowed in. It reports that some people are going days without food and medicine and nutritional products to treat children are extremely scarce. It says the Rafah crossing with Egypt “does not have the capacity to handle the amount of supplies needed, and other crossings – particularly the Kerem Shalom crossing – must be reopened for both humanitarian aid and commercial supplies”. It is calling on world leaders to demand a ceasefire.

Christian Aid partner doctor warns of rise of infectious diseases in Gaza

The director of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a medical partner of Christian Aid  in Gaza, says people are dying because medical services cannot cope with the numbers of injured. Dr Ayed Yaghi told Christian Aid that thehealth sector is on the verge of collapse, unable to cope with the soaring numbers of casualties and fatalities. A statement from Christian Aid says doctors are warning of infectious diseases in the refugee shelters with diarrhoea among children, a three times increase of acute respiratory infections, a four times increase of skin diseases and hygiene-related conditions such as lice, and the registration of some cases of hepatitis. Christian Aid is calling on all world leaders to press for a full and permanent ceasefire to come into effect immediately as the only serious option to stop further loss of civilian life and deepening this humanitarian catastrophe.

Bethnal Green church Christmas singalong cancelled when 7,000 people turned up

St Peter’s Bethnal Green has cancelled its traditional Christmas singalong at Columbia Road market after the event went viral on social media and crowds of 7,000 turned up. Premier Christian News reports that the tradition began 10 years ago with a honky tonk piano wheeled out into the street with fairy lights. It grew steadily but a post on TikTok this year proved too popular and the church wardens have cancelled the last two Wednesday events on police advice. The Rev Heather Atkinson says the successful venture was a question of allowing God “to let you get creative”. 


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