Religion news 12 January 2022

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Image credit: UK Parliament, Open Government License

Tory MPs urge sanctions against HSBC over links to oppression of Uyghurs

Former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith says HSBC should suffer economic sanctions if it does not sever reported ties with a firm that is closely linked to the ethnic cleansing of Uyghur Muslims in China. Sir Iain raised the issue in the Commons and won reassurance from the Business Secretary Kwasi Karteng that he would discuss this with the Treasury.  City AM reports that Sir Iain, and other Tory MPs, will also write to the Treasury to ask them to take action against HSBC, after the Sunday Times revealed the British bank is holding £2.2m of shares in a subsidiary of Xinjiang Tianye Group, connected with the oppression of Uyghurs.

New chair to oversee parish reorganisation and church closures

Canon Flora Winfield, an adviser at Lambeth Palace, has been appointed as the Third Church Estates Commissioner, chairing the Mission, Pastoral and Church Property Committee and the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee. The Church Times explains that this will include proposals for parish reorganisation and the future of churches no longer deemed viable as Anglican places of worship. She succeeds Dr Eve Poole.

Vatican Archbishop behind same sex statement moved from his job

The Associated Press reports that Pope Francis has moved the Archbishop widely thought to be behind a controversial statement banning same sex marriage blessings because “God cannot bless sin”. Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, currently the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is to become the bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, while retaining his Archbishop title. AP says that several leaders in the CDF are about to retire, suggesting a re-organisation is approaching

Nazi flag at Italian neo fascist funeral condemned by Catholic church

In Italy, the Jewish community and Catholic church have condemned the draping of a Nazi flag with swastika on the coffin of an extreme right-wing militant who died aged 44 from a blood clot. Alessia Augello, was a former member of the neo-fascist party Forza Nuova. Her funeral was at St Lucia church in Rome, where the priests said they had no idea the flag would be draped across the casket. The diocese said it was violent exploitation.

Israel rebuts claims that radical fringe groups aim to drive Christians out of Jerusalem

The New York based publication The Jewish Voice says Israel has rejected  accusations that radical Israeli fringe groups were trying to rid Jerusalem of Christians through intimidation and attacks. Last weekend, the Sunday Times carried a story that the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, believed that hate crimes, desecration of churches and intimidation aimed to drive the Christian community from Jerusalem’s Old City. Just before Christmas, the  Archbishop of Canterbury and Hosam Naoum, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, wrote an open  letter to the Times saying similar things. The Jewish Voice reports that Israel’s Foreign Ministry rebuffed the criticism, saying it was baseless and distorted the reality of the Christian community in Israel.

Polish government sacks Jewish relations envoy

The Polish government has sacked the man charged with improving relations with the global Jewish community, after he gave an interview to the Jewish News saying a law on regulating speech about the Holocaust was “stupid”. There has been concern at Poland’s attitude towards freedom of speech on the Holocaust and the restitution of property to Jewish people. Opposition politicians say Jaroslaw Marek Nowak was sacked for telling the truth about a law allowing the prosecution of historians for their research.

Pope’s unannounced visit to a record shop

The Pope has been snapped coming out of a record shop in Rome, late on Tuesday evening with a CD in hand. He was spotted by a reporter from the Rome Reports news agency, who told the Associated Press that the Pope, “an Argentine whose love of tango and milonga is well known, didn’t buy anything, but the shop owners gave him a CD of classical music”.

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