Religion news 1 November 2021

Image credit: pxfuel

World faiths urge political leaders to act on climate change as Cop 26 starts

World faith leaders have issued warnings and encouragement to political leaders when they take decisions at the Cop26 environment summit in Glasgow

In an unusual move, Pope Francis gave a Thought for the Day to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He spoke of the need to avoid retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation and instead embrace a chance for change towards a brighter horizon. This, he said, can be pursued only through a renewed sense of shared responsibility for the planet and a recognition of the unity of the human family. This was not the first time a Pope has given Thought for the Day. Benedict XVI did so in 2010.

Bishop John Arnold, the environment lead for the Catholic bishops in England and Wales, said there was a growing consensus of the danger of climate change. In an interview with Vatican News, he said it was up to the 200 political leaders gathered in Glasgow to move away from short-term political gains to realise that taking action now would win the approval of the electorate.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the outcome of the Cop26 climate summit would be “life or death for millions of people” and the talks are “emergency surgery” for the world. He is due to visit the summit in Glasgow today and said that unless the talks delivered, the world faced a dark, disturbing future. Church bells rang across the UK on Saturday night as a call for urgent action on climate change.

Eight Muslim organisations in the UK and Ireland have signed a statement demanding climate justice, a just transition to a green economy and more support for the most vulnerable. The statement calls for world leaders at Cop26 to meet a series of targets including net-zero emissions and a total greening of energy sources. Convened by EcoIslam, the organisations pledged to preach anew on the need for care for creation.

The Young Christian Climate Network relay pilgrimage arrived in Glasgow on Saturday, with a service at St George’s Tron, Church of Scotland. Hundreds of people joined the relay from church to church, which took four and a half months from the G7 in Cornwall in June to Cop26 in Glasgow. Jenny Morris said on Twitter it was a “wild & beautiful journey” and “the real test begins to see if we have been heard”.

Warm rapport of the Pope and the president

President Joe Biden has held lengthy talks with Pope Francis, while on his visit to the G20 in Rome. Afterwards he said that the Pope told him he was a “good Catholic” and should continue taking communion. This rebuts some conservative Catholics in the United States who suggested the president should be denied the eucharist because of his support for abortion rights. Their talks, which took in the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and poverty, lasted far longer than the one hour allocated. Pictures and film released afterwards indicate a warm rapport between the two men.

Public asked how to protect the UK’s heritage of church buildings at risk of closure

The National Churches Trust, which supports church buildings open for worship. publishes a report today inviting the public to join the debate on how to keep buildings going, as attendance and financial reserves decline, especially since the pandemic. An estimated 39,800 church buildings are open for worship in the UK and demand for funds to carry out repairs and provide community facilities far exceeds supply. In 2020, the National Churches Trust had to turn away three out of every four applications. Churches apply for money from communities, trusts and foundations, government and heritage bodies, but the trust says the lack of any long-term funding is a cause of concern. The report ends with a consultation asking for views on who should be responsible for funding the repair of buildings and whether communities should take over churches threatened with closure.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali formally joins Ordinariate

Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, has been ordained as a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Catholic Herald reports. The ordinariate is a structure within the Roman Catholic church, which Anglican clergy can join while remaining married and keeping some of their liturgy. His ordination was performed by Cardinal Vincent Nichols at the Church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, London. Forty priests of the ordinariate and three Anglican former diocesan bishops attended.

Research into pagan connections between religious belief, nature and happiness

An academic at Buckingham University is conducting a research project into the experiences of Pagans who have served in the armed forces. Dr Charmaine Sonnex wants to explore the relationship between religious belief, nature connectedness, and happiness. The Wild Hunt, an independent news agency carrying news of Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist communities, says that this research can better define the Pagan and witch communities and provide a more comprehensive view of the members

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and Birmingham

The Religion Media Centre has launched a project this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides. Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England. They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life and it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to life and lasting contacts for the future will be made. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon. The Leeds event was last week. Here are the next four:


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