Religion news 31 October 2023

Image credit: NASA Johnson CCLicense2.0

Day 25: War in the Middle East

Benjamin Netanyahu rejects calls for a ceasefire saying “this is war”. Save the Children says the  number of children killed in Gaza in three weeks – 3,195 – is more than the annual number of children killed across the world’s 20 conflict zones since 2019. Israel’s ground offensive continues in Gaza with calls for hospitals to be evacuated, which the UN says is impossible. Israel rescued Private Ori Megidish, taken hostage by Hamas on 7 October, while Hamas produced a film of three women hostages speaking about their condition.

Security advice offered to Jewish parents whose children attend non Jewish schools

 A second webinar offering security advice to British Jews is to be put on this evening (Tuesday) by a number of Jewish leadership organisations. It will offer advice to parents of Jewish children in non-Jewish schools, as fear of attack rises and antisemitic hate crimes rise. Speakers include the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, and the UK government’s adviser on antisemitism, Lord John Mann. Another webinar with advice from the Community Security Trust, community leaders, and a message of support from the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was broadcast on Sunday. The third webinar in the series is on Wednesday and concerns advice for Jewish students in higher education.

Christians in Gaza will find it difficult to resist temptation to leave

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Catholic leader of the Holy Land, has said it will be difficult for Gaza’s 1300 strong Christian community to resist the temptation to leave. In an interview with the Italian national broadcaster RAI, he said the easiest path would be to leave for a more peaceful life elsewhere, but the challenge was to rebuild. He believed “co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians will be practically impossible” He was willing to play a role as a mediator, including in negotiating the return of Israel hostages. And he said Palestinian statehood had to be faced before any resolution to the conflict could be found.

Other news

Nuns abandoned their convent and took off with sacred works of art

A group of nuns who abandoned a convent in Piedráhita, south west Spain, are accused of taking 20 highly valuable works of art. The sisters of the Carmelite order left the 15th century convent in early October and days later a lorry took away art and other contents from the Museum of Sacred Art.  This outraged local villagers who took to the streets in protest, with the mayor accusing the nuns of closing the convent without consultation and taking possessions intended to belong to the community.

Sikh juror “made to feel like a criminal” when stopped from entering court with a kirpan – a small sword

A former secretary general of the UK’s Sikh Council, Jatinder Singh, was prevented from entering a court for jury service because he was carrying the kirpan, a sword with religious significance. Ministry of Justice rules allow sword blades no more than five inches, and Mr Singh’s was an inch under the limit. He complained that he was made to feel like a criminal when a security guard stopped his entry into Birmingham Crown Court. A spokesman for the Courts and Tribunals Service said they had apologised for any distress caused and have reminded the security officers of the rules. The kirpan is one of five Ks that must be worn in the Sikh tradition, including long hair, a comb, a wooden bracelet and cotton underwear.

Catholic mass including an altar girl causes fierce social media backlash

A Catholic priest who included an altar girl as a Eucharistic minister in a mass in Italy has received such a fierce backlash on social media, he said it was as though he had killed someone. Father Eros Accorigi chose the girl to help because no-one else was available, but a film of the mass went viral on social media and he was reported to the bishop. He told a local reporter that he didn’t believe he had done anything wrong and he didn’t think the Eucharist had been vilified.

Archbishop backs warm welcome campaign

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, isa backing the Warm Welcome Campaign, which provides a network of warm spaces for people who struggle to pay energy bills. He said the cost-of-living crisis had become the new normal for many people and warm places not only  gave heat, but community and dignity.


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