Religion news 14 April 2022

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Bucha pictured 4 April 2022; Image credit Manhhai CCLicense2.0

Pope says forces of evil are at work in war in Ukraine

The Pope has told a gathering of world religious leaders that “the forces of evil” are at work in Russia’s war on Ukraine, leading to “abominable” attacks on innocent people and widescale destruction of their homes. His message was read out at a meeting in Chernivtsi, near the border with Romania, as faith leaders met refugees and the vast number of volunteers looking after them. He said: “The suffering inflicted on so many frail and defenceless persons; the many civilians massacred and the innocent victims among the young; the desperate plight of women and children … All this troubles our consciences”. The gathering was initiated by Rabbi Dr Alon Goshen-Gottstein, the director and founder of the Elijah Interfaith Institute in Israel.

The interwoven history and shared community aims of Christianity and football

The Football Association is launching a series of events with faith groups to encourage inclusivity, aiming to show that faith and football are at the heart of great communities and share common purpose. The FA’s Faith and Football programme will see special events such as an Itfar, breaking the Ramadan fast, at Wembley, and a Hanukkah party at Watford. For Christianity, a workshop was held in Holy Week with players, fans, a chaplain, and journalists discussing how Christianity is woven into the game. Many football clubs emerged from church groups, bringing values such as fair play. Now there continues to be an overlap between Christians and football clubs, which are often the heartbeat of communities. View our briefing here and read our report here

The Easter clash for devoted football fans

The broadcaster Adrian Chiles has bared his soul on the dilemma he faces this Easter, being both a West Brom fan and a devoted Catholic. Writing in The Guardian, he says: “Over the Easter weekend, the secular and the devotional clash like clanging bells”. And he confesses that in previous seasons when relegation or promotion depended on Easter results, his mind would wander in church. Full confession here

Vaisakhi celebrated today

The festival of Vaisakhi is celebrated today (Thursday) with processions of chanting, singing and dancing in many major cities in the UK. This is the first complete celebration since lockdown and in Leicester, for example, the festivities take place over several days including preparation both practical and spiritual. The Mirror reports on the customs and lists places where events take place. RMC factsheet here

Muslim and Jewish initiative launched during festivals

An initiative is being launched during Ramadan and Passover – next week – to help businesses and other organisations learn about faith and how it can impact the lives of employees and business activity. “Clarity Partnership” is founded by Julie Siddiqi and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, aiming to encourage people to “bring their whole selves” to work. They use their own religious backgrounds – Islam and Judaism – to train people working with Muslims and Jews to understand and acknowledge anti-Muslim hatred and antisemitism.

Easter weekend of holy fires

Cathedrals and churches across the UK are offering a full programme of music and worship over Easter, for the first time since lockdowns. The BBC One Sunday morning Easter service comes from Leeds Minster, while on Radio 4 the Archbishop of Canterbury presides over the Sunday morning service.. In Truro Cathedral, Bach’s St John’s Passion marked the start of Holy Week and there are plans for an outdoor dawn service with fire as Easter Day breaks. Salisbury Cathedral will also light an Easter fire on Easter Day.

Today, Maundy Thursday, the Prince of Wales will take the place of the Queen to distribute money in the traditional ritual, this year to be held at St George’s Chapel Windsor. Read our report on this story here

Religious festivals in the coming days:

Thursday 14: Vaisakhi, traditional Punjabi harvest festival celebrated with processions, singing and colourful decoration; also marks the inauguration of the Khalsa, the body of committed Sikhs who have decided to dedicate their lives to the tradition’s teaching. Factsheet here

Friday 15: Passover, eight-day festival celebrating the liberation of the Israelites form slavery in Egypt. Factsheet here

The Christian festival of Easter starts on Palm Sunday (10 April) and leads to Good Friday marking the crucifixion of Jesus, and Easter Sunday (17 April), the resurrection. We have factsheets on Good Friday, Lent and Easter; and Easter and the Resurrection

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