Religion news 11 October 2021

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Image credit: Vatican news

Global consultation launched heralding reform of Catholic church

A two-year global consultation process on restructuring the Roman Catholic church has been launched by the Pope in Rome. “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission” is being hailed as the most ambitious attempt at reform since Vatican II, 60 years ago. At a mass this weekend, the Pope urged the faithful not to remain barricaded in their own certainties but to listen to one another, in a process that will involve every parish, diocese, and region of the church. “Keep us from becoming a ‘museum Church’, beautiful but mute, with much past and little future”, he said. View our media briefing on synodality here and read our report here

Votes counted for new general synod in ‘battle for the CofE’s soul’

Voting has closed in the elections for the Church of England’s General Synod, with candidates from all wings of the church claiming that the next five years will be the “crunch time” for the CofE’s future. It will debate decisions on clergy discipline, the parish system, church structures, racial justice, the blessing of same-sex unions and allowing gay marriages in church. The same sex marriage issue has caused deep division and, despite months of consultation with parishes, the opposing sides are still poles apart and compromise is said to be impossible. Read Rosie Dawson’s report here

Pope not now attending Cop26

Pope Francis will not now be attending Cop26, the climate change summit, in Glasgow next month. The Vatican said that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, will now represent the Holy See. In an interview on 1 September with Carlos Herrera of the Spanish station Radio COPE, the Pope said “in principle the programme is that I go. It all depends on how I feel at the time. But in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there”. No explanation was given for the change of plan. He would have been the first Pope to attend a COP meeting and campaigners hoped he would inspire world leaders to take action.

Former Today editor admits she tried to get rid of Thought for the Day

Sarah Sands, the former editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has confessed that she wanted to get rid of Thought for the Day and move it to Newsnight. The Telegraph reports that she told the Cheltenham Literature Festival she first raised the issue with theatre director and BBC governor Sir Richard Eyre, when she first started the job in 2017. He told her it would cause a scandal: “Please, I beg you, no … there will be questions asked in Parliament”. Sarah Sands said she was irritated that, as editor, she didn’t control the content of the slot – that rested with the BBC religion department. And she revealed that presenters are told not to engage with or comment on the content, in her view a manifestation of the separation of church and state. She was at the festival to promote her book “The Interior Silence” on her pilgrimage to ten monasteries around the world and said this experience had made her feel warmer towards Thought for the Day.

Thirty mosques ordered to close in France

The French interior minister Gerald Darmanin says France has shut down one third of the 89 mosques inspected following radicalisation allegations, since November 2020. In an interview with Le Figaro, he said a further six in Sarthe, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Cote-d’Or, Rhone, and Gard regions will also be closed. The measures have been taken following anti separatism laws passed in July this year, which brought in new powers to dissolve organisations if they were found to be promoting political Islam.

Langhar week highlights work of gurdwaras in feeding the hungry

Gurdwaras throughout the world distributed millions of free meals in Langhar Week which finished yesterday. The tradition of Langhar is a form of service (seva), which was initiated by the founder of the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak, 550 years ago. Gurdwara community kitchens cook hot meals of vegetarian foods, such as samosas, dahl and bread, which are distributed to the needy every day of the year. In Langhar week, special community events and activities with young people are emphasised, to build links with people of all religions, gender or nationality and draw attention to year round acts of service. Slough Labour MP Tan Dhesi, told Sikh PA: “It represents a lot more than just food for all, but fosters equality and community cohesion, because regardless of race, gender or background, everyone gets to prepare, serve, sit down and eat together.”

Lords debate bill to end compulsory daily acts of worship

A bill to end compulsory daily acts of worship in schools has been put forward by the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Burt and supported by the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries. He said: “The obligation to have compulsory worship in schools on a daily basis is either widely ignored or so widely interpreted that it is, in fact, evacuated of all significant religious content”. The measure says schools should hold inclusive assemblies that encourage children to “reflect on our world, the moral choices that we face, our responsibilities to each other and to the planet”. The bill would not apply to faith schools. Baroness Burt is a vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.

Archbishop ends historic visit to Egypt

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is ending his visit to the church in Egypt, where he celebrated the new Anglican Province of Alexandria which extends across north Africa down to Somalia. He met leaders of Coptic Christians, the Greek Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox churches and re-affirmed the intention of building bridges of friendship across different faiths, which he said was important as the world faces great crises. During his trip he met the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, a position of high authority in Egypt, and visited a joint Muslim Christian project, planting a Tree of Hope.

Apologies after raunchy video filmed in Toledo Cathedral

The Guardian reports that the archbishop of Toledo in Spain has apologised after the cathedral was used as the location for a raunchy video launching a rapper’s new single “Ateo” (atheist). The film shows the Spanish rapper C Tangana and the Argentinian singer Nathy Peluso in steamy dance moves, with onlookers peering at them from the shadows. Within hours of the video’s release, complaints came in from offended Catholics and the archbishop issued a statement saying he “deeply regretted what had happened” and had known nothing whatsoever about the project, its contents, or the final result.

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

The Religion Media Centre is launching 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.


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