Religion news 11 March 2022

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Ukraine headlines

Russian army moves further towards Kyiv; Global outrage at attack on maternity hospital; Mariupol under siege with food and medicines running short; BBC film shows Kharkiv obliterated by shelling; UK allows online visa applications after fierce criticism for being slow and inflexible; UK enforces strict sanctions against Russian oligarchs including Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea football club, which could go bust; Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine foreign ministers fail to make progress.

Patriarch Kirill, Russian Orthodox leader, tells WCC to be unbiased and free from prejudices

Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox church, has written to the World Council of Churches — of which it is a member — urging the organisation to be unbiased and free from political prejudices. He was responding to an appeal from the WCC’s acting general secretary, the Rev Prof Dr Ioan Sauca, urging Kirill to mediate to end the war. But Kirill replied that he wanted peace but: “I express my hope..that the World Council of Churches will be able to remain a platform for unbiased dialogue, free from political preferences and one-sided approach.” The Russian Orthodox Church has been a WCC member since 1961.

Eastern Orthodox church needs ‘a coherent political theology

Professor Aristotle Papanikolaou, co-founding director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, New York, has suggested that the eastern Orthodox church has become estranged from democracy after the end of communism. In The Mystical as Political, he says that when communism fell, most of the Orthodox world was thrust into political upheaval “for which it was not theologically prepared”. He says the tradition is lacking rigorous theological reflection on a coherent Orthodox political theology.

Study reveals dramatic decline in Ukraine Jewish population

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research has produced a study trying to determine how ma y Jews live in Ukraine and Russia. In Ukraine, it says the population has declined by 91 per cent in just 30 years with people migrating to Israel, Germany and the USA. The study suggests the number of Jewish people in Ukraine now is between 45,000 and 200,000.

Other news:

Exploring the worldviews underpinning the iceberg of religion

The study of religion is going through a fundamental rethink in schools and universities in Britain. Courses in biblical studies and examination of single religious traditions are making way for “worldviews”, exploring the way people make meaning in their lives. In Worldview Religious Studies, Professor Douglas Davies, from Durham university, suggests a method for understanding the views which underpin, like an iceberg, the religious and secular worlds evident in society. He explained his theory in a Religion Media Centre briefing. Report here, film here

Appeal for faith groups to help with social prescribing initiative

Faith Action, a network of faith-based and community organisations offering front line services such as health and social care, organised a day to promote the social prescribing initiative. It is encouraging faith groups to contact local GPs offering practical help, befriending, physical exercise or good advice.

37 awarded Lambeth degrees for church work

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the names of 37 people awarded Lambeth degrees, for their work for the church. They include the leader and conductor of the Kingdom Choir, Karen Gibson; Theologian and Astrophysicist the Rev Professor David Wilkinson; and the founder of Messy Church, Lucy Moore .

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