Religion news 12 July 2021

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Image credit: FA

Football and religion, hope and disappointment

The national pride and euphoria which propelled the England Team through to the finals of the Euro 2020 championship met reality last night. Beaten in a penalty shoot out (again), Rabbi Alex Goldberg, who chairs the English Football Association’s Faith Network, said:  “You did us proud. They gave us hope and courage. Feeling for our brave penalty takers.. Gareth Southgate and his team lifted a nation and brought us all closer together. When the fog clears that’s the memory I shall take away. This year a final… next year a #FIFA22 Cup”. He told the Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4 that the make up of the team and its national support showed the success of the Football Association’s intention to be inclusive.

10,000 or 20,000 new Church of England groups?

The Church of England has boldly declared plans to set up 10,000 new Christian groups rooted in existing parishes, alongside 10,000 lay-led church communities aimed at new, younger members, without vicars or church buildings. The initiative was clarified on Friday after incensed priests said lay led groups would be the death-knell of the parish and the whole strategy illustrated the increasing influence of evangelicals in the Church of England.  Canon Dave Male said there were two initiatives and there may be overlap. The measure is to be discussed by synod today (Monday). Catherine Pepinster’s story here

Shock and disappointment at failure to appoint racial justice officers

The Church of England will not, after all, fund full time racial-justice officers in every diocese due to lack of cash. The proposal was from a taskforce set up by the Archbishops to combat institutional racism and lack of diversity. The co-chairs of the Racial Justice Commission  said they were deeply shocked and disappointed by the decision.  The announcement came at the General Synod on Friday, when it was also revealed that Lord Boateng will lead a three-year Commission to scrutinise the Church of England’s policies, practices and culture in relation to racial justice. He replaces the Rev Dr Joel Edwards, who died last month.

Opulent bishops cost £120,000 a year – each

Bishops in the Church of England earn £46,000 a year, but the cost of maintaining their houses / palaces averages £70,000 a year and then there are expenses on top of that. Sam Musgrave, a member of the General Synod, “questioned the cost of bishops’ lavish lifestyles and opulence at the top while parishes up and down the country struggle to meet their bills and even close their doors”.

Clergy discipline measure reform

The General Synod has proposed a new way of disciplining clergy after criticism that the existing system allows false, vexatious claims and the process takes so long that clergy suffer undue stress and rack up debts fighting their case. The proposals to be considered next year would distinguish cases so that only serious misconduct would be investigated in a formal tribunal process.

Permits issued for the Hajj

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has issued permits for 60,000 pilgrims to perform the Hajj, due to take place on 18 July. They were selected from 558,270 Muslims who had applied online and priority was given to those who had not previously taken part.  Usually 2 million people perform the Hajj but this is the second yar it has been curtailed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Jewish cultural centre beside the sea

A Jewish cultural centre with flats, shops, restaurants and meeting spaces is being built in Hove, to secure the existing Jewish community’s future and attract holidaymakers to the seaside. Businessman Marc Surgarman was brought up in the area and came up with the idea for the project, modelled on JW3 in London, when he discovered the synagogue in Brighton and Hove was under threat. He hopes to revive the Jewish community which may lead to opening a new school. Building work is underway and it is due to be completed next year.

Pope delivers Angelus prayer from hospital balcony

Pope Francis has made his first public appearance since surgery to remove part of his colon a week ago. At noon yesterday, he greeted the people, including other patients, from his hospital balcony, offering thanks for  prayers for his recovery and for the health care he has received. Noon is when traditionally he would have appeared from a window at the Vatican overlooking St. Peter’s Square to recite the Angelus prayer.

Boris Johnson: a “very bad Christian”

In an interview with The Times, Boris Johnson was asked whether, following three marriages and a series of affairs, he subscribed to a pre-Christian morality system with no clear set of rules. He dismissed the notion: “Christianity is a superb ethical system and I would count myself as a kind of very, very bad Christian. No disrespect to any other religions, but Christianity makes a lot of sense to me.”


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