Religion news 11 October 2022

Image credit: Preet Kaur Gill MP

Sikh MP demands urgent action on hate crime

Preet Kaur Gill MP has appealed to the homes ecretary to take urgent action to reverse the “alarming trend” of a 169 per cent increase in attacks on Sikhs in one year. In an open letter, she points to the Home Office’s recent hate crime figures which show anti-Sikh hate crimes were up from 112 in 2020-21 to 301 in 2021-22. She says a recent report from an all-party parliamentary group recommended a tighter definition of anti-Sikh hate crime and action to tackle its under reporting, but no meeting has been held. She is deeply concerned at the trend and is seeking to protect the Sikh community.

Pope sends message of consolation to the people of Creeslough

Pope Francis has sent a message of sympathy to the people of Creeslough, in Ireland, where an explosion at a petrol station killed 10 people. In a letter sent to the local bishop, the Pope implored “the divine blessings of consolation and healing upon the injured, the displaced, and the families coping with pain of loss” and assured those affected of his spiritual closeness. Ten red candles have been lit at St Michael’s church in the village, to remember those who died. The funeral services will take place over several days, starting today.

Catholic synod consultation carrying on work of Vatican II

The process to consult all members of the Roman Catholic church on its future direction has been hailed as continuing the vision of the Second Vatican Council, which started work 60 years ago today. The Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod, said the synodical process was to prolong the spirit of the Second Vatican Council in the life and mission of the church. The council’s legacy was reform and modernisation which changed liturgy and challenged ideas about the relationship between the church and the world.

Church leaders in Jerusalem oppose moving British embassy there

The patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem have issued a statement opposing any move of the British embassy to Jerusalem. The prime minister, Liz Truss, proposed the idea in a meeting with her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid at the United Nations, and repeated it in a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. But yesterday, the church leaders warned that moving the British embassy would severely undermine the international consensus with governments refusing to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of either an Israeli or Palestinian state before a lasting peace accord is reached: “The religious status quo in Jerusalem is essential for preserving the harmony of our Holy City and good relations between religious communities around the globe,” they said. Their statement follows similar concerns expressed by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Justin Welby.

Green heating systems too expensive for churches

An analysis of church court judgments on church heating systems has led The Times to conclude that the Church of England’s net zero target by 2030 is at risk. Churches have been seeking permission from consistory courts on the replacement of outdated boilers. But The Times reports that in 90 per cent of cases, churches have been given permission to install fossil fuel boilers instead of environmentally friendly heat sources, because they are cheaper or new systems cannot be fitted in historical buildings. The story quotes a Church of England spokesman saying the church commissioners had pledged £190m over nine years to support the transition to net zero.

Archbishop confronts divisive church issues on his tour of Australia

The Church Times reports the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to Australia. In Perth, he said it was hurtful that its bishop, Kay Goldsworthy, was not recognised by the conservative diocese of Sydney because of her gender. In Melbourne, he commemorated the 175th anniversary of the diocese in a service attended by the Roman Catholic archbishop, and said back home, Cardinal Vincent Nichols was one of his closest friends: “We speak every time there is a crisis — which means, in England at the moment, about hourly”, adding that he “mustn’t stray into politics”. He is visiting indigenous communities during his trip and said the church’s historic treatment of the land’s original inhabitants was a matter of shame.

Slow-motion schism of United Methodist Church

The Associated Press reports that the United Methodist Church in America is breaking up “in a slow-motion schism”. It quotes the conservative Wesleyan Covenant Association predicting that 1,000 churches will join the exodus this autumn, leaving in protest at moves to allow same-sex marriage. The denomination has 30,000 churches in the States and 300 have already split away, including large congregations in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The report details difficult negotiations over ownership of assets including buildings, pained efforts to stop the schism and relief among those who have gone.

Film telling truth of the Pendle witch trials could lead to pardon

A film maker from Lancashire is raising funds to make a documentary about the 1612 Pendle witch trials, in the hope that shining a light on the truth could lead to them being pardoned. Emma Swinton said the film script explored the story of how a woman helped to groom a nine-year-old girl to testify against her own family, who stood trial for witchcraft. Twelve “witches” were said to be involved in the murders of 10 people. Ten were convicted and hanged. Emma Swinton told the Burnley Express that she hoped the film would lead to the women being pardoned.


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