Religion news 10 May 2022

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Image credit: Copyright House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Roger Harris CCLicense2.0

The Pope’s example of dealing with mobility is a lesson for the Queen

The Queen will not attend the State Opening of Parliament today because of “episodic mobility problems”, with the Prince of Wales instead reading her speech. The decision follows months of mobility problems which have seen her pull out of garden parties and remain at Windsor. In a comment piece for the Religion Media Centre, journalist Catherine Pepinster, who has written a book about the British monarchy and religion, suggests that it would be no bad thing to be seen in a wheelchair. She says the Pope observed that his inability to walk brings “a little pain, humiliation”. But the symbol of frailty can be a matter of humility, immensely powerful, a moment for empathy, respect and celebration. She says “It works for the Pope. It can work for the Queen”.

Pope tells LGBT Catholics – God is Father who does not disown any of his children

Pope Francis has contributed to a new website set up by a Jesuit in New York, offering support for LGBT Catholics. Father James Martin launched Outreach on 1 May. Days later he asked the Pope to answer three questions he is most asked by LGBT Catholics and their families. He received a hand-written response a couple of days later, which has since been published on the website. Fr Martin asked: “What would you say is the most important thing for LGBT people to know about God?”. Pope Francis replied: “God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And the style of God is closeness, mercy and tenderness. Along this path you will find God.”. Asked:  “What do you say to an LGBT Catholic who has experienced rejection from the Church?”, the Pope replied: “I would have them recognize it not as the rejection of the church, but instead of people in the church.

Clergy and church workers to receive hardship fund as cost of living soars

The Church of England has announced that up to £3 million will be distributed as hardship grants to help clergy and lay employees such as children and youth workers.  The grants will be delivered by local dioceses to those struggling with the cost of living crisis, in particular with rising energy bills.  A report last year said clergy with larger families or only one income were suffering hardship, with 13 per cent finding it ‘quite or very difficult’ to manage and 25 per cent “just getting by”.

Bishops criticise nationality and borders act …

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have criticised the Nationality and Borders Act for failing to treat asylum seekers justly or honouring their dignity as human beings. In a statement following their spring plenary assembly, they say those seeking refuge in the UK should be provided with safe routes for travelling and have their cases assessed justly. The crime of human trafficking is defeated by confronting the perpetrators not by punishing the victims, they say.

.. Bishops say Catholics once more obliged to attend Sunday mass in person

The bishops united behind another resolution, to restore the “obligation” for Catholics to attend mass on Sunday and Holy Days from Pentecost on 5 June. During the Covid pandemic, the rules were relaxed as social gatherings were restricted. But a statement following the bishops’ spring plenary assembly says the relaxation of rulers no long applies.  Virtual online masses are no replacement for the Sunday attendance at mass, but if continued the bishops say this would be helpful to the vulnerable and sick.

UN group says Scottish Sikh man’s detention in India is illegal

The United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared that the detention of a Scottish Sikh man in India has no legal basis and he should be released immediately. Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, was arrested on alleged terror offences in 2017 and has been held without trial while campaigners in Scotland and around the world have campaigned on his behalf. The Sikh Federation says the government should act to secure his release.

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