Religion News 22 May

Faith groups must not miss the opportunity to spur the world to use the Covid-19 crisis as a catalyst to tackle climate change. That was the message from activists and experts during a Religion Media Centre online panel discussion. Early signs were that the pandemic would lead to a fall in global emissions of about seven per cent for the whole of 2020, by far the greatest single-year drop in modern history, the meeting was told. Governments could choose green investment or try to reinflate the old fossil fuel economy.  This was where the world’s religions could make their mark, said Martin Palmer, a leading figure in the religious environmental movement who now leads FaithInvest, a charity encouraging faith institutions to redirect their funds. Full report here:

Dabirul Choudhury who is 100 years old, has raised more than £186,000 for coronavirus relief by walking laps round his community garden, while fasting for Ramadan.  His target was to complete 100 laps of his garden, which is 80 metres wide, during the holy month. He thanked people who have donated to his cause, the Ramadan Family Commitment Covid-19 crisis initiative, which is run by British-Bangladeshi television broadcaster Channel S. Funds will be distributed to more than 50 countries including the UK.

The rap artist Stormzy has been awarded the  2020 Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award for contributing to the public’s understanding of religion. The Trustees say he has fostered a public conversation to build a sense of community that has united thousands of fans across cultural, class, generational, and religious boundaries. There are shortlists for five other awards and the winners will be announced in an online ceremony on June 11th.

St Paul’s Cathedral has launched ‘Remember Me’, an online book of remembrance for people who have died as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Family, friends and carers of those who have died can submit the name, photograph and a short message in honour of the person. The Prince of Wales has recorded a video message in support of the project and choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral have recorded an anthem. The site will be transformed into a physical memorial at the Cathedral, housed in a new inner porch.

Another critic has emerged of the Church of England’s decision to shut churches during the pandemic, even for clergy. Canon Rosie Harper, chaplain to the bishop of Buckingham and a member of the General Synod, said people’s trust in a “national church” is gone forever. Writing in the Via Media blog, she said “A bewildered nation expected words of lament, of comfort, of inspiration. Alas, although they were there, they got drowned out by the micromanagement of church buildings.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has reacted cautiously to a change in the law meaning that people will be required to “opt-out” if they do not wish their organs to be donated after death. The Bishops say the act of donating organs before or after death has been considered a gift and an intrinsic good. However, a system of presumed consent risks taking away the right of the individual to exercise this decision, and therefore potentially undermines the concept of donation as a gift. In a letter to faith groups, The NHS says a person’s faith and beliefs will be respected in discussions with their families about donation.