Religion news 27 September 2023

Migrants crossing English channel
Image credit: Sandor Csudai CCLicense4.0

Jesuit Refugee Service head condemns Home Secretary’s comments on refugees

The Home Secretary’s call for reform of the UN Refugee Convention has been condemned as appalling, by the UK Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service. The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, told a meeting in New York that the international asylum system was no longer fit for purpose and questioned whether being fearful of discrimination was enough to qualify for protection. She said uncontrolled and illegal migration was an “existential challenge for the political and cultural institutions of the West”. But Sarah Teather, director of the JRS, said the Convention was badly needed: “To suggest that many of those to whom it has extended protection for decades should be shut out and cast back into danger is appalling. The government should work to extend protection to those who need it, not find new ways to deny sanctuary. These comments from the Home Secretary are the latest in a cruel, vaunting attack on refugees”.

Thousands of Armenian Christians flee from Nagorno Karabakh after Azerbaijan seizes control

More than 15,000 ethnic Armenian Christians have fled from the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, or Artsakh, to neighbouring Armenia, after Azerbaijan took control of the region. CNN reports that Azerbaijan’s “brief but bloody offensive” last week killed more than 200 people and injured many more as its president said it had restored sovereignty over the region. Azerbaijan guaranteed security but the Armenian Christians distrust the government after a history of conflict and ethnic cleansing.

The silence of evangelicals once associated with Mike Pilavachi

Natalie Collins, writer of the blogsite God Loves Women, has written a comprehensive account of the vast number of organisations that worked with the disgraced founder of Soul Survivor Mike Pilavachi. He was suspended and resigned after allegations that he massaged and wrestled young men over a period of many years, claims which were proven by a Church of England investigation. Soul Survivor is a charismatic evangelical group, operating within the Church of England, which once ran young people’s festivals for 30,000 people. In her blog “Soul Survivor and those who cannot remember the past”, Natalie Collins lists its all-pervading influence on evangelical groups in Britain, and says that only a handful have given transparent responses to the scandal.

Baltimore church sex abuse report redacts names of Catholic leaders

The names of five Catholic leaders have been redacted from a report into child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which was conducted by Maryland’s attorney general. The Associated Press reports that the names are already out there in local media and there are accusations of a cover-up. A spokesman for the archdiocese said names were redacted because the people had a right to be heard as a fundamental matter of fairness. A further eight names which were also once redacted have now been made public in a  new edited version. The attorney general had previously released a report detailing 156 clergy, teachers, seminarians and deacons within the Archdiocese of Baltimore who allegedly assaulted more than 600 children going back to the 1940s. A new state law comes into effect this weekend removing the statute of limitations on child sex abuse charges.

Nicaraguan bishop nominated for human rights prize

Nicaraguan bishop Rolando Alvarez has been nominated for the 2023 Sakharov Prize, which rewards people who exceptionally defend human rights and freedoms. Bishop Rolando was sentenced to 26 years in prison in February this year for being a traitor to the homeland, based on his words n sermons. He refused to take up a government offer to be deported to the USA and was jailed. His name for the prize has been put forward by European Parliament MEPs.


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