Religion news 28 June 2023

Image credit: Pavel Kazachkov CCLicense2.0

Pope Francis’ peace envoy visiting Moscow today

Pope Francis’ peace envoy, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi , is visiting Moscow today and tomorrow for talks to find “a solution to the tragic current situation” of the war in Ukraine,. His visit follows the aborted rebellion by Yevgeny Prigozhin who leads the Wagner group. Two weeks ago, the Cardinal visited Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. His itinerary in Moscow is not known, but it is expected that he will meet Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church and supporter of the war.

Warning over dangerously high temperatures at the Hajj in Mecca

The Hajj enters its last day today with the festival of Eid ul Adha ending the ten-day period of religious observance, including the Hajj and often fasting and generous giving. 2.5 million people are said to have been in Mecca over the past week for the Hajj, but at our media briefing yesterday, concerns were raised over the very high temperatures experienced there – up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit were recorded – and the expectation that this will only increase with climate change.  Shahin Ashraf, Islamic Relief’s Head of Global Advocacy, on climate change and Hajj, told the briefing that it is usual to expect one death in every thousand pilgrims, with 70 per cent of these caused by heat exhaustion and cardiac arrests. There are 32,000 medical staff in Mecca to cope, but the situation may get so bad that age restrictions may have to put in place to save lives, she said. The briefing discussed plans to increase the numbers attending the Hajj and Umrah, the chaos of the online ticketing system which has left people heartbroken when they could not secure a place, and the impact on Islam in the west if ticket restrictions remain, meaning people cannot comply with one of the five requirements of their religion – to attend the Hajj. View our briefing again on our You Tube channel here

700 people at National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast to hear sermon on forgiveness

More than 700 people, including 280 MPs, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Bishop of London and Mike Royal, General Secretary of Churches Together in England , attended the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast in Westminster Hall.  The breakfast was organised by “Christians in Parliament” and the keynote speaker was Amy Orr-Ewing, former senior vice president at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, whose founder was posthumously accused of multiple sex abuse crimes. She is now a travelling evangelist and senior fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, which was set up by the RZIM Zacharias Trust but is now independent of it. Her theme was the power of forgiveness amid the brutality of public life. At last year’s breakfast, the final prayer was for God “to do something amazing in our nation” and hours later Sajid Javid resigned, leading to Boris Johnson’s resignation. That same prayer was uttered this year by the Evangelical Alliance’s CEO. Gavin Calver. No resignations yet.

Church of England welcome’s Prince’s homelessness initiative

The Church of England’s lead bishop for housing Dr Guli Francis-Deqhani, has welcomed the launch of the Prince of Wales’ Homewards project to end long term homelessness. She said the CofE shared his desire to tackle the underlying causes as well as supporting those in crisis. In a statement, the Church of England said it would play its part in ending homelessness and had “set out the role it can play in addressing a lack of affordable and high quality housing – a major factor behind homelessness”.

Church properties searched in perjury investigation again archbishop of Cologne

The Associated Press reports that German police and prosecutors searched Catholic Church properties yesterday in connection with perjury allegations against the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Reinier Maria Woelki.  The report says that searches included his home, the vicar general’s office and an IT company providing email services to the archdiocese. It says “ The cardinal is under investigation on suspicion of having falsely testified to court about when he became aware of reports of clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese”.

Methodists engage mediators to sort out church disputes before they lead to formal complaints

The Methodist Conference has voted to roll out a scheme to help resolve disputes in church communities. The Reconciliation and Mediation Team Pilot Project has 18 mediators who help individuals and groups with skills to sort out differences and disagreements without resorting to a formal complaints process. A pilot project has already worked with the Methodist youth event 3Generate and the Superintendents’ Conference. Coaching was also offered to new ordinands in 2021 and 2022 which focused on managing change and transition.

Muslim charity appeals for help for forgotten Somalia

The  Muslim charity Human Appeal is calling for integrated intervention in Somalia where it says millions are on the verge of famine due to repeated rainy season failures and conflict. This would cover needs related to food insecurity, nutrition, water, sanitation, health and hygiene. Islam Channel reports Owais Khan, Human Appeal’s Deputy CEO, saying that Somalia seems to be forgotten by the rest of the world but urgent help is needed with one in two Somalis facing food insecurity and 90 per cent of the country hit by drought, with people forced to flee their homes in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock.


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