Religion news 13 May 2022

Image credit: Muslim World League

Muslim World League forum gathers to ‘usher in a peaceful world’

The Muslim World League has held an international forum “Common Values among Religious Followers” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, including global representatives from all faiths. Its aim was to strengthen cooperation and “usher in a more peaceful world, with discussions around equality, co-operation and dialogue”. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, from the Orthodox Church associated with Constantinople, told the gathering that it was the duty of the faithful to serve the cause of peace. “In our times, the credibility of religions largely depends on their commitment to peace … It is always a duty, it requires vision, commitment, struggle, sacrifice, and patience. We believe that there are potential and inexhaustible reserves of peace making in the great religious traditions.”

Khalsa Aid mobilising relief efforts in Moldova and Ukraine

The Sikh charity Khalsa Aid is delivering medical aid to Ukraine and food and essential supplies to refugee families in Moldova. In refugee camps, it has supplied equipment to cook meals and food supplies in Moldova and Transnistria. The charity says that hospitals in Ukraine are short of essential equipment because the supply chains broke down in the war, so it is delivering medical aid and first aid kits through a local charity.

Bishop seeks to abolish universal credit limit of two children

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, has launched a private member’s bill in the House of Lords to abolish the two-child limit in Universal Credit. He said there was evidence that the limit was pushing larger families into poverty, confirming fears raised when it was introduced in 2016. Now, during a cost-of-living crisis, was the time to review the rule. “We must seek to be a just and compassionate nation, remembering that all children are of great value, not just the first two,” he said.

US Catholic bishops oppose moves to charge women having abortions with murder

American Roman Catholic bishops have come out against moves to charge women who have abortions with murder — criminal homicide. Louisiana’s House of Representatives has debated a bill to enable such prosecutions. But this is a step too far for Louisiana’s anti-abortion governor John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Right to Life and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, signed a letter with other organisations, saying: “We will continue to oppose legislative and policy initiatives that criminalise women who seek abortions, and we will continue to work for initiatives that protect unborn children.”

Methodist schism – not as simple as that

The decision to form a new Global Methodist church, in opposition to the United Methodist Church over same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ issues, is not turning out to be straightforward. The United Methodists’ Judicial Council has ruled that while rules exist for individual congregations to leave, there is nothing within church law that would allow an annual conference to do the same. The Religion News Service reports that the Judicial Council ruled on Tuesday that only the General Conference, the denomination’s global decision-making body, can determine the process and conditions for annual conferences to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. This has been met with disappointment, especially as state churches were due to take a decision to leave this summer.

Church of England backs designer ‘pods’ to help ex prisoners get back on their feet

The diocese of Gloucester is to buy six container “pods” refurbished as houses for vulnerable people in the area — and prisoners are helping to build the homes. All five regional Police and Crime Commissioners support the scheme as does the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, also bishop to HM Prisons. She said the pods would be used for people coming out of prison, with wrap-around support from a church and a local community committed to supporting them. Video here

University research into visions of God during Covid pandemic

A research project is under way at the University of Wales, into visions of God experienced during the Covid pandemic. Professor Bettina Schmidt, director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre at the university, is leading a research project in collaboration with the Center for Mind and Culture in Boston in the United States. She is looking into reports of people struggling for survival with Covid suddenly having a vision, seeing Jesus and feeling safe. Some got relief and reassurance, others felt it was a sign that death was near. “Neuroscience would say it’s something in the brain but I think this is for the people who experience it to decide and not for me,” she said. Read Lianne Kolirin’s report here


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