Religion news 13 July 2021

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Image credit: @juliette_grace

Christian and Jewish Leaders condemn racism following Euro 2020 final

The has been widespread condemnation amongst religious leaders against racism directed towards England footballers following Sunday’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is on sabbatical, Tweeted that those engaging in racial abuse “must be held accountable”. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, and the Church of England General Synod issued a statement applauding the achievements, multicultural composition and mutual support of the England men’s football as a “model for the whole country”. They said they were, however, deeply concerned and disappointed that this had been “marred by disgraceful racial abuse.” Their comments came as the Archbishops’ Council agreed to the establishment of a Racial Justice Unit to help make the “cultural and structural transformation required to bring new life and be a truly inclusive Church”.

The Jewish CST (Community Security Trust) described the racist abuse following the game as “despicable and should not be tolerated”. JCORE, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality told the Jewish Chronicle the abuse demonstrated how “the persistence of racism continues to blight our country”.

In Manchester, a mural of Marcus Rashford was defaced with racist graffiti after the match, but within hours the abuse was smothered with local messages of love and support. See our round up of reaction to racism here

Commons debate gives MPs opportunity to restore international aid budget

MPs will have the opportunity today (Tuesday) to restore the international aid budget to 0.7 per cent of gross national income, reversing a government decision to reduce it to 0.5 per cent, a cut of £4billion. The reduction caused widespread dismay among Tory backbench MPs, faith leaders and aid organisations, with a consortium of charities promising to pick up the slack. Today, the Commons will debate a new government proposal that the Office for Budget Responsibility will decide when aid can increase, taking into account public spending and borrowing levels. If MPs vote this down, the Chancellor has said that the 0.7per cent level will be restored.

Parish clergy are at the heart of any new strategy, Archbishop of York insists

The Church of England says it has no plans to dispense with the traditional parish system in response to fears over ambitious targets for the launching of new lay-led worshipping communities.  The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said the new targets would be a large part of the “mixed ecology” of the future of the C of E – but all would “flow from parish churches serving local communities”. His comments were part of an update on the Church’s Vision and Strategy proposals during the General Synod. Read more.

Church to issue first ever apology over expulsion of Jews from medieval England

The Church of England is planning to apologise for the anti-Semitic expulsion of Jews from Medieval England ahead of the 800th anniversary  of the Synod of Oxford which implemented some of the most egregious anti-Semitic decrees. It is working with the Council of Christians and Jews on a symbolic service that might offer an act of repentance that could be offered to local churches as a liturgical resource. The Telegraph says Jewish groups have welcomed the move as “better late than never.”

Bosnia commemorates 26th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre

In Bosnia, thousands have gathered to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, Europe’s only acknowledged genocide since World War II. The Associated Press reports that the slaughter of more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks, most of them men and boys, by Bosnian Serb forces was commemorated in speeches, prayers and song, followed by the reburial of 19 victims whose remains were found in mass graves and recently identified through DNA analysis. The Srebrenica killings occurred during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, which came after the break-up of Yugoslavia. The massacre has been declared a genocide by international and national courts, but Serb leaders in Bosnia and neighbouring Serbia continue to downplay or even deny it despite the irrefutable evidence of what happened.

Chelsea FC to train Jewish and Arab children in sports leadership

The Chelsea Foundation is partnering with the IFA (Israeli Football Association) to bring a sports-based leadership programme to thousands of Jewish and Arab children in Israel. The Jewish Chronicle reports that Jewish and Arab university students will take part in a football-based, anti-discrimination and leadership training programme. They will then work in mixed Jewish-Arab pairs to bring inclusive football activities to classes of Jewish and Arab schoolchildren. They hope it will empower children to harness the values of respect and fairness in football to promote greater tolerance, unity and inclusion in society.

Pope Francis to remain a few more days in hospital

Pope Francis is to remain in hospital for a few more days to complete his post-intestinal operation recovery. The Vatican says the Pope has been visiting patients in nearby wards and shared his joy over the victories of the Argentine and Italian national football teams. Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the Pontiff will visit Scotland in November for the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

Billy Graham family sells 1940s home in North Carolina

The family of the late American evangelist, Billy Graham, are selling his North Carolina home. Graham, who died in 2018 at the age of 99, was constantly travelling to preach the Gospel but often called North Carolina his home state. The four-bedroom 1940s house in Montreat is currently on the market for about £430,000. His daughter, Ruth, who was born there, told a local newspaper that selling the home was a tough decision, but the family hoped it would bless the future owners as much as it blessed her own family.  More

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