Religion news 13 October

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Places of worship braced for change with new coronavirus restrictions

Faith leaders are waiting to hear how the new coronavirus restrictions will affect places of worship. The three tier system announced by the government yesterday prohibits people from different households meeting indoors or outside. Until now people have been able to meet socially distanced in buildings to worship. The Church of England says it is working with Government departments to assess how the system might affect churches in the future.

Church of England attendance figures continue to decline

Church of England figures released yesterday show that on average 690,000 people attended services each week in 2019. The numbers were higher at Easter – 1.18million –   and Christmas – 2.3 million.  The trend continues to decline, with attendance falling between 15-20% in the past ten years.  Marriages, baptisms and funerals are also down. The report says the way data is collected this year, because of the coronavirus, will be different, as churches have offered worship online, or via email, telephone, or post.

15 year old computer whizz takes first step to becoming a saint

Carlo Acutis, a teenage Italian computer genius who died aged 15, is on the way to becoming a saint. The first step was his beatification in the town of Assisi when he became the youngest person in modern times to go through this process. He was born in London and moved to Milan with his parents, when he would visit churches, donate his pocket money to the poor and created websites for Catholic organisations having taught himself to code while at primary school. In his final years, suffering from leukemia, he helped spread Roman Catholic teaching online.  A miracle was attributed to him when a Brazilian boy was cured after touching one of his t-shirts. Pope Francis said the story shows young people that true happiness is found by putting God first and serving people, especially among the poorest in society.

First rabbi for York in 800 years

York’s fledgling Jewish community has raised tens of thousands of pounds to engage the city’s first rabbi since the 13th century. York is synonymous with the infamous massacre at Clifford’s Tower in 1190, known as the blood libel, when many Jews chose to kill themselves rather than be murdered or forcibly baptised. Now 800 years later, the York Liberal Jewish Community is flourishing, with services, festivals and events and it says a permanent rabbi would enable it to extend its activities. Full story here

US Supreme Court nominee says justices should not make value judgments

The Unites States Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, has told a Senate confirmation hearing that the public shouldn’t expect courts to resolve policy disputes or make value judgments and that judges “should not try” to do so.  Her nomination which is being rushed through before the presidential election, has caused deep unease among progressives, because of her known conservative views and membership of a Roman Catholic charismatic group “People of Praise” , which believes men are head of the family.  Her appointment would shift the court to the right, perhaps for a generation.

Cardinal George Pell meets the Pope in a private audience

Cardinal George Pell has met Pope Francis for the first time since he was cleared of sexual abuse charges in Australia. He was forced to leave his role as head of the Vatican finances in 2017, to face the charges, but his conviction was overturned in April. He returned to Rome last month, days after Giovanni Angelo Becciu was asked to resign amid allegations of financial wrong doing.

Facebook  bans holocaust denial posts

Facebook has banned “any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust”.  Mark Zuckerberg had previously said that such posts should not automatically be taken down even though they were offensive. But he has had a change of heart after seeing data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence.

Donald Trump’s prayer call

Donald Trump joined a prayer call on his return to the presidential election campaign trail. In a ten-minute speech before prayers began, he was upbeat about the way coronavirus can be treated and said the country is making an economic comeback. He asked God for wisdom and grace to lead the country at the top level. “Whether its evangelical, Christian evangelical, call it whatever you want, people of religion, this is the most important election of our lives and we have to get out and we have to vote.”


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