Religion news 23 November 2023

Image credit: Michal Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Christian campaigners say autumn statement didn’t go far enough

Christians Against Poverty says the Chancellor’s autumn statement will not help people on low incomes who needed emergency support. Its director of external affairs, Gareth McNab, said the increase in benefits, housing allowance and the national living wage is welcome. But not enough to ensure people can afford basic essentials. But it warned that the harsher sanctions for benefits have been acknowledged to be harmful and counter-productive.  It is calling on the government to establish an independent body to review social security “so that we never again have people facing destitution in our country.”

The Catholic Union directorNigel Parker, said the Chancellor had missed the opportunity for fundamental reform of the tax and benefit system to help families struggling with the cost of living. He said te Union’s efforts to highlight the impact of the two-child cap on universal credit and working tax credits were not addressed: “The benefit of the changes announced by the Chancellor will be felt considerably less by those with caring responsibilities, which speaks to an inherent weakness in our current system. The lack of references to family and the common good is also deeply troubling”

The ecumenical “Just Money Movement”, also criticises the statement: “It was a chance to close tax loopholes and make tax fairer. Instead, the Government chose to cut some taxes whilst failing to properly support those struggling with the cost of everyday life and address public services in crisis”.

£7million to combat antisemitism in the UK

The Chancellor announced an extra £7m over the next three years to tackle rising antisemitism in schools and universities in the UK, which he said was deeply concerning. It will go to the Holocaust Educational Trust, among other groups. An uplift of £3m will go to the Community Security Trust, which helps to protect British Jews.  He told the Commons: “When it comes to antisemitism, and all forms of racism we must never allow the clock to be turned back.”

Pope meets relatives of Israeli hostages

As negotiations continue to release 50 Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October, 12 of their relatives toured capital cities to continue to press for a speedy resolution. Pope Francis met 12 people whose family members are being held hostage, including a two year old boy. Afterwards they held a press conference explaining that he had listened to their stories and that he showed compassion and empathy. They asked him to keep speaking in public of the events of 7 October to remind the world what happened and bring the captives home.

Gavin Drake steps down as Anglican Communion director of comms

The Anglican Communion’s Director of Communications, Gavin Drake, is stepping down tomorrow, after almost five years, to develop a new publishing and media business. He has worked with the Anglican Communion since 2005, as a consultant, editor of the Anglican Communion News Service and then as director. He was also a member of the Church of England’s general synod, campaigning on safeguarding issues until he resigned in July following chaotic scenes over the CofE’s dealing with safeguarding.

Selection panel composition for next Archbishop of Canterbury

The Church Times reports that the panel to select the next Archbishop of Canterbury, has decided to include global representatives from each region – Asia, the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. Justin Welby is 68 and is due to retire when he is 70. The details were agreed by the Anglican Communion Standing Committee this month, with further rules on age, gender, lay or ordained and experience required. The CofE had earlier agreed to increase the committee representatives from the global communion from one to five people; and to reduce representatives from the diocese of Canterbury from six to three.

Licensed bar in a Suffolk church hall courts controversy

An application to create a small bar in a church hall in Suffolk has run into opposition from the local community with one saying it “beggars belief” that a vicar would want to encourage drinking on church premises. Canon Sharron Coburn has applied for the licence at St Peter’s Church Institute in Brandon, saying it would be useful to serve refreshments after funerals, for private hire events, pop up cinemas, and during the day for Pimm’s at a fete, or a wine-tasting afternoon, or afternoon cream tea. She has requested licensing hours from 10am to 11pm but there have been objections  fearing drunk and disorderly behaviour and noise. The application is to be considered by West Suffolk Council’s licensing and regulatory sub-committee this week.


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