Religion news 11 May 2022

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Methodist campaigner says Queen’s speech failed to address urgent cost of living crisis

Methodist poverty campaigner Paul Morrison, has said the Queen’s speech failed to outline specific measures to deal with the urgent needs in the cost of living crisis. In an interview with UCB, Mr Morrison, who is policy adviser with the free churches’ Joint Public Issues Team, said measures such as reforming the energy markets or creating higher paid jobs would take years, yet the crisis is immediate with people turning to food banks today and this wasn’t addressed. Two big concerns were missing – climate change and guarantees of the rights of asylum seekers. But he welcomed the concept of levelling up, partial moves to ban conversion therapy and improving rights of people with mental health issues.  Churches, he said, will be asking the government to address the urgency of the cost of living rise.  Church Times round-up here.

Enmity between Orthodox priests in Ukraine war

The Guardian carries a story of Fr Viktor Talko, a priest in the Ukrainian Orthodox church affiliated to Moscow, who has been accused of being an agent of the Russian army, collaborating with the invading Russian forces, feeding Russian soldiers and evacuating people to Belarus. The enmity stoked a decades long feud with a neighbouring priest from the Orthodox church of Ukraine in the same town of Borodyanka, north of Kyiv, who accused him of passing on intelligence to the Russians, forcing him to flee into the countryside. Full story here

Mother Theresa – saint or sinner?

A three part Sky TV documentary, ”Mother Theresa: For the Love of God?”, starts on Sky TV tonight. It reports the conflicting stories of her life and motivation, from a “modern day Jesus” devoting her life to the poor, to a charlatan who turned a blind eye to sexual abuse in the church and handed over large amounts of money to the Vatican. The series reaches no conclusion but weighs the evidence on both sides of the story.

US Bishops urge Catholics to pray for Roe v Wade to be overturned

Two senior Roman Catholic bishops in America are asking the faithful to fast and pray on Friday to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalised abortion in the United States. In a statement, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said prayers should be offered, “For our nation, for the integrity of our judicial system, and that all branches of government be dedicated to seeking the common good and protecting the dignity and rights of the human person, from conception to natural death.”

New appointments to House of Bishops following antiracism report

Three people from UK Minority Ethnic/Global Majority Heritage backgrounds have been selected to be ‘participant observers’ in the Church of England’s House of Bishops. Canon Arun Arora, co-chair of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce; Canon Dr Chigor Chike, Chair of the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network; and Rev Shemil Mathew, Vice Dean of Emmanuel Theological College, brings the number of UKME/GMH backgrounds on the House of Bishops to 11. The House holds the power to veto and approve legislation. It includes all 42 diocesan bishops, nine suffragan bishops serving smaller areas and 11 observers.  Their appointment follows a report on anti-racism which proposed more inclusion and diversity in church leadership.

Lufthansa apologises to Orthodox Jews banned over face mask rule

The German airline Lufthansa has apologised after more than 100 Orthodox Jewish passengers were barred from a flight at Frankfurt Airport because a handful of the group refused to wear face masks. The group was on its way from New York to Budapest, for an annual pilgrimage to commemorate a Chasidic rabbi. Wearing masks is obligatory on planes in Germany for crew and passengers. Lufthansa issued a statement saying:  “We regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests. We apologise to all the passengers unable to travel on this flight, not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offence caused and personal impact.”

Christian charity offers online training for refugee hosts

Free online training for people hosting Ukrainian refugees has been set up by the Sanctuary Foundation, founded by Dr Krish Kandiah. The online course includes safeguarding, trauma awareness and community integration. Dr Kandiah told Premier Christian News that dealing with trauma was an obvious challenge, especially among children, and the course offers advice on where to seek expert help. More than 200,000 families in the UK offered to host a refugee but so far the UK has issued 86,000 visas. The Times quotes latest figures  that only 15 per cent of the 74,700 Ukrainians who applied under the sponsorship route have made it to Britain.

Passion play returns to Oberammergau, with the antisemitism removed

Four centuries ago, the Catholic residents of a Bavarian village pledged to perform a play of “the suffering, death and resurrection” of Jesus once every decade if God spared further suffering from the bubonic plague. The villagers fulfilled their promise for the first time in 1634 and, according to legend, there were no further deaths. Two years ago, the Covid plague struck and the play was put on hold, but from this weekend, the five-hour Oberammergau Passion Play will be staged once again. Organisers have worked with an American rabbi on how to strip out the play’s antisemitic content. The play will no longer depict the Jews as Christ’s killer and will clearly show that Christ himself was Jewish. Director, Christian Stückl said: “Let there be no doubt: in Oberammergau, in the play, antisemitism has no place, and it has no place in the lives of the performers either”. Read the full story here


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