Religion news 13 April 2022

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Image credit: The Elijah Institute

World religious leaders pledge solidarity and support to ‘courageous’ Ukrainians

Religious leaders from many countries have visited refugee camps in Chernivtsi, in western Ukraine. They toured a makeshift centre in a school and met people displaced in the war. Lord Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was among the visitors and spoke afterwards to assure the people of Ukraine that the leaders offered support and a shared promise that their voice would be heard. He praised the people for their courage and fearlessness, and expressed grief and anger at their suffering. He said: ”We cannot be free or human if you are not free or treated as humans.” The event was organised by the Elijah Interfaith Institute and the Peace Department non-profit organisation. Watch recording of the speeches here

Two Catholic aid workers killed in Mariupol

The Catholic aid agency Caritas International says two aid workers died when their office was shelled in Mariupol, southern Ukraine. They took shelter with five relatives in the Caritas centre in the city during an attack. Two Caritas organisations are in Ukraine — Caritas Ukraine and Caritas-Spes Ukraine — which have provided humanitarian assistance to about 600,000 people remaining in the country and those fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Patriarch Kirill ‘has betrayed the Christian faith

Peace campaigner Canon Paul Oestreicher believes Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, has “betrayed the Christian faith and taken his church back to the darkest of tsarist times”. In a letter to The Guardian, he said Kirill had made Putin’s war a holy war, but he said: “Holy Russia is represented today by courageous protesting priests and people, light years away from the pompous military cathedral that Patriarch Kirill recently consecrated with the new would-be tsar at his side. That is blasphemy. I pray for the day when Kyiv, the birthplace of Holy Rus, can again live at peace with Moscow and be welcomed into fellowship with the churches of the west”. Dr Oestreicher believed a negotiated peace settlement would begin the process of rebuilding security and trust, but “without a lot of forgiveness, that will not happen”.

Khalsa Aid pledges to help refugees in Warsaw for as long as needed

Khalsa Aid has described its help for Ukrainian refugees in five neighbouring countries including Moldova, where it is providing food and goods for 3,000 refugees taken in by local families and in refugee camps. At the Polish border, a mobile outdoor kitchen provided hundreds of hot meals consistently for four weeks before the operation moved to Warsaw, where more than 3,000 meals are cooked each day. It says this will continue for as long as is needed.

Jesus College will not appeal against Tobias Rustat memorial judgment

Jesus College Cambridge will not appeal against a decision that the memorial of the 17th-century benefactor, Tobias Rustat, who invested in slave trading companies, should remain in place in the chapel. Last month a church court rejected a request to remove it, saying the idea that Rustat amassed his wealth from slavery was a “false narrative”. But the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has once more spoken forcefully in favour of moving the memorial, despite the court’s judgment, saying: “Memorials to slave-traders do not belong in places of worship” and there was a lot further to go in the church’s journey towards racial justice. Sonita Alleyne, master of Jesus College, said the church process was not fit for purpose and showed a lack of understanding of people of colour in modern Britain. She was confident that the college was on the “right side of history”.

Demand for help to buy food triples among Jewish families in London

The Jewish News reports that the Jewish Community Council of north London is feeding “close to 23,000 people” as families struggle with rising prices. Its director said the demand for food assistance had tripled recently and families with both parents working were struggling to buy food for the festival of Passover which starts on Friday. It had been able to provide £600 of food depending on the size of the family, with special items such as grape juice, matzah, fish and meat for the festival.

Some prayer apps banned by Google for harvesting data

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has banned dozens of apps from its Play Store, including popular Muslim prayer apps, after it investigated research suggesting they were secretly harvesting data such as phone numbers or location through a line of code. The apps were removed on 25 March, but a spokesman is reported as saying that they could be relisted after removing the software — in fact some are already back up.

Background on week ahead full of religious festivals

Thursday 14: Vaisakhi, traditional Punjabi harvest festival celebrated with processions, singing and colourful decoration; also marks the inauguration of the Khalsa, the body of committed Sikhs who have decided to dedicate their lives to the tradition’s teaching. Factsheet here

Friday 15: Passover, eight-day festival celebrating the liberation of the Israelites form slavery in Egypt. Factsheet here

The Christian festival of Easter starts on Palm Sunday (10 April) and leads to Good Friday marking the crucifixion of Jesus, and Easter Sunday (17 April), the resurrection. We have factsheets on Good Friday, Lent and Easter; and Easter and the Resurrection

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