Religion news 4 August 2023

World Youth Day Lisbon 2023. Image credit: ©️ Andreia Barroso CCLicense2.0

Pope tells half a million young Catholics the church is for everyone

Flags, dancing, processions, a choir, an orchestra, ticker tape and streamers welcomed Pope Francis to the 37th World Youth Day in Lisbon, where an estimated half a million young people have gathered from across the world. In his reflection during the Liturgy of the Word, he encouraged the crowd to chant that there is room in the church for everyone, and said they were called by God, a community for all people including personal defects and limitations. He said young people should never stop asking questions, because that is a sign of restlessness which produces a desire to move forward in life. The ceremony ended with the World Youth Day song “Há Pressa no Ar” “There’s a rush in the air”.

Evangelist Franklin Graham says Trump indictments are attempt to wound him politically

The American evangelist Franklin Graham has said that the indictments against Donald Trump are an attempt to wound him politically so that it makes it impossible for him to run as president of the United States. In an interview with Newsmax, an American conservative TV news channel, he said it was a sad day for America, politics and democracy. The left is scared to death of Donald Trump and people should pray to God to find the right leader for America because “we are about to lose this country”.  Mr Graham, the son of Billy Graham, is leading a rally at the Excel Centre in London on 26 August, supported by 1,000 churches in London and the south of England.

First rabbi for 800 years for Jewish community in York

The city of York has its first resident rabbi in 800 years, since Jews were wiped out in the massacre of 1190, when the entire community was trapped by an angry mob inside Clifford Tower, in York Castle, and chose to commit suicide rather than be killed or forcibly baptised. Rabbi Elisheva Salamo, from California, will serve the 100 members  of the present day York Liberal Jewish Community, formed ten years ago. She told the Guardian: “Helping to rebuild what was once one of England’s most vibrant Jewish communities is an honour and a privilege”.  

US appeals for calm after six Muslims die in violent clashes in India

The US has appealed for calm in India after violence against Muslims in a region north of Delhi resulted in six deaths. It broke out on Monday after a Hindu procession made its way through a Muslim area causing clashes which killed four people, then spilled out into a neighbouring city where shops, homes and a mosque was set on fire and a cleric and Muslim were killed. US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a press briefing that they urge parties to refrain from violence. The Independent reports that a number of Muslim families living in the area have fled.

Indian court allows survey to find Hindu temple under 600 year old mosque

A court in India has ruled that a scientific survey can be undertaken at the site of the 600 year old Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, in the north of the country, to determine whether it was built on the site of a Hindu Temple. The site is one of several with similar disputes, as some Hindus believe more mosques were built on demolished temples. Muslims tried to stop the survey saying it would damage the building and was contrary to a law which protects places of worship. But the Hindu petitioners said the survey was needed in the interests of justice. Associated Press report is here.

Bishop of Gloucester in battle with Michael Gove over housing development

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, has written to Michael Gove saying his decision to “call in”, or block, a development of 350 houses on church land near Cheltenham is incomprehensible and utterly confusing. She said the site would help alleviate the local housing crisis and fund national church efforts to provide houses in the rest of England. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Housing, overturned a decision by Cheltenham borough council to support the development in the face of local objections from residents concerned about building on green fields and the impact on traffic. The bishop said the site had been earmarked for development for 20 years and the only logical explanation for Gove’s decision was to refuse it. The Times report is here and Housing Today’s report is here

Swedish consulate secretary shot outside office in Turkey

There are reports that a secretary at Sweden’s honorary consulate in Izmir,  western Turkey has been shot and seriously injured outside the office. The incident comes after protests in Muslim majority countries against the burning of the Quran in Sweden, which is introducing border restrictions as a result. A Turkish TV station has reported that the attack was motivated by a visa issue.

No nationally led process to restructure Church of England dioceses

The Church Times has seen a letter from the Dioceses Commission, considering changes to the number of dioceses and bishops, saying there will be no centrally led national approach to restructuring at this time. This is a change of direction after a paper to the bishops in 2022 suggested amalgamating dioceses faced with budget deficits and rising costs. The Commission letter says a nationally led programme would be a distraction and burden. Instead it recommends local initiatives such as collaboration between dioceses, on issues such as net zero, racial justice, ministry training and education.

Celtic Quiet Places in Cornwall hug you in their haven of sanctuary and calm

A network of Celtic Quiet Places in Cornwall has been mapped so that modern day pilgrims can find sanctuary and calm like the saints of old.  Canon Pat Robson, a retired parish priest, launched the project after talking to a young family man anxious and in debt, sitting in a church, who said “Just let the church hug me”. She has identified 90 churches in the county, in isolated areas with spectacular views, or in towns, which were started by early missionaries in the 5th to the 8th Century AD. Her website shows them all on a map of Cornwall, ancient places where the stones have become steeped in love and prayer. Read more about quiet places map on our website here


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