Religion news 13 May

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The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales is asking the government to allow churches to open for private prayer, earlier than the anticipated July re-opening for public worship. The government’s road map suggests places of worship will be among the last buildings to be opened from lockdown. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in a statement: “The timing and the manner of the opening of churches touches profound sensitivities and spiritual needs. The Government’s document and statements fail to recognise this…In dialogue with the Government, the Catholic Church …has already submitted a detailed plan, in full accordance with public health guidelines, for churches to be opened for private prayer. The Church is ready to play its full part in the task force, understanding that this includes the possible earlier use of churches for private prayer, as a first safe step towards their use for public worship.”

The Conservative party has published terms of reference for an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the party. As a result, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has dropped plans for its own investigation.  The inquiry follows a catalogue of complaints from the Muslim Council of Britain. It says the terms of reference are inadequate and are a façade to hide ‘hundreds of incidences of Islamophobic bigotry we have identified in its ranks.’ The Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “If we are not satisfied with progress or how the investigation is conducted, we will review our decision and do not rule out the use of our legal powers.”

On International Nurse Day, Pope Francis prayed for heroic nurses whose work was more than a profession – a vocation, a dedication. During the Santa Marta mass, he said that in the coronavirus pandemic, nurses had given examples of heroism and some had given their lives.

More than 12 religious leaders in America have joined a gun control lobby ‘Everytown for Gun Safety’ to support candidates in the forthcoming autumn elections.  Associated Press reports that the group includes representatives from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh backgrounds and expects to spend $60 million on the campaign. Everytown was co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has 6 million supporters and has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for president.