Religion news 13 October 2021

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Image: Eglise Sainte-Odile by Guilhem Vellut CCLicense

Secrecy of the confessional does not apply to child sex abuse in France

Days after a devastating report on the extent of child sex abuse in the Catholic church in France, the Interior minister has been forced to state that the law of the Republic supersedes church laws in the confessional. The clarification came after Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, head of the bishops’ conference in France, had told a radio programme that the secrecy of confession is imposed by canon law and is above the laws of the Republic.  But he was hauled before the Interior minister to be told that French law has priority, and professional secrecy – including that of the Catholic confessional – does not apply to disclosures of potentially criminal cases of sexual violence against children, which priests are obliged to report. The report said 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and lay members over the past 70 years. 

Chine McDonald the new director of Theos

Chine McDonald, author, broadcaster, public relations executive and popular public theologian, has been named as the new director of Theos, a think tank which explores the place of religion in society. She is currently head of public engagement at Christian Aid and recently published a book ‘God Is Not a White Man: And Other Revelations’. She was born in Nigeria, studied theology at Cambridge, trained as a newspaper journalist and is a trustee of Greenbelt.

Division in the breakaway Global Anglican group GAFCON

Anglican bishops in North America affiliated to GAFCON,  have issued a stern  rebuke to their counterparts in Kenya, for consecrating women as bishops. In a public letter, the bishops and members of Forward in Faith North America express their “profound sadness” at the decision of the Anglican church in Kenya to “break 2,000 years of principle and practice as well as the protocol of GAFCON” (Global Anglican Future Conference). GAFCON split from the Anglican communion over its stance on women’s ordination and same sex relationships. The letter says the Kenya innovation “opens the door for Satan to divide Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church”, adding that the ability to carry out their mission is impaired by “breaking with the holy Biblical tradition given by all male apostles to all make successors”.

Moves to clarify rules on killing animals without being stunned

Chris Loder, the Conservative MP for west Dorset, is said to be planning to put down an  amendment to the animal welfare bill, to cut the number of animals slaughtered without being stunned. In an explainer, the Guardian says that in the UK, all animals must be stunned so that they are unconscious and unable to feel pain during the slaughter process. The only exception is where meat is destined for a religious community and slaughtered in accordance with religious rites. The Guardian explainer is here

Whites only Asatru folk religion resurgent in rural America

The Asatru Folk Assembly, a new whites only religious movement in America worshipping Nordic, pre-Christian gods, has bought a building as its place of worship in rural Minnesota. They describe themselves as a ‘folk religion’, accepting only those with northern European ancestry and they have adopted pagan symbols. Reporter Amudalat Ajasa filmed their activities and reports for The Guardian on their racially exclusive ideology, which is protected by the first amendment.

Rector keeps his job after allegations of sending inappropriate texts

The Church Times reports that the Rev Anthony Giles, a rector in Nottinghamshire, who admitted sending inappropriate texts to a vulnerable woman in his congregation, has been prohibited from ministry for six months and ordered to undergo supervision and further training. The tribunal decision overrules a recommendation from his bishop that he should be removed from office. The tribunal was “struck by the breadth of referees” supporting the rector. The complainant said the way she had been treated in the investigation was isolating and frightening and the church had tried to suffocate and silence her. Full story here

Captain Kirk explores the extraordinary miracle of earth

William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in Star Trek for more than 30 years, will today make his real life expedition into space. At the age of 90, he will join three other astronauts in a ten minute space exploration journey made possible by the entrepreneur Jeff  Bezos’ Blue Shepard rocket for space tourism. Star Trek was written by a secular humanist, but the ethical principles of avoiding killing,  viewing hunger and poverty as outdated and greed as abhorrent, spawned the “Trekkies”, a phenomenon which has attracted research as a new religious movement. Shatner said the trip would allow him to look at the vastness of space and the extraordinary miracle of earth and  he would be entranced.

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Plymouth and Birmingham

The Religion Media Centre is launching a project this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides. “Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media” features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England. They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life and it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to life and lasting contacts for the future will be made. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon.

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