Religion news 14 June 2021

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Image credit: emmer.com.ar CCLicense

Archbishop warns: more work is needed to supply Covid-19 vaccines

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has welcomed the G7 decision to promise one billion doses of vaccine to poorer countries. In a tweet, he said it showed that it was possible to build a fairer world “that truly reflects Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbour. There’s much more to do to ensure everyone is safe from Covid-19, but we must welcome this important step towards vaccine equity.”

President Biden attends mass at St Ives church

The US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill attended Sunday mass at the Sacred Heart and St Ia Catholic Church in St Ives, near the centre of the G7 summit. Their cavalcade had to wend its way through narrow Cornish streets to the small Victorian church, for a visit that surprised parishioners. ITN reporter Rupert Evelyn said the priest, Fr Philip Dyson, told him that the president made a substantial donation. PA reported that there had not been advance warning and Fr Dyson admitted he was slightly nervous. The scripture readings were, by chance, on creation and the climate. The president described the church as beautiful.

Young Christian climate change campaigners start pilgrimage to Cop26

The Young Christian Climate Network begins a 750-mile pilgrimage from Truro Cathedral today, en route to Glasgow where Cop26 takes place in November. A commissioning service has been held at Truro Cathedral to send them on their way. They are calling for world leaders to decide that no country will go into debt tackling climate change and expressed dissatisfaction with the response of G7 leaders this weekend: “Disappointing that the G7, the wealthiest nations in the world, today only reaffirmed an existing commitment on climate finance … one that they have continually failed to meet. This is climate window-dressing with business-as-usual.”

Hajj cancelled to people outside Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has announced that this year’s Hajj pilgrimage will be limited to 60,000 vaccinated people from within the kingdom. The Associated Press reports a statement from the Hajj and Umrah Ministry that limits have been imposed to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims. Last year, only 1,000 residents of Saudi Arabia were selected to take part in the Hajj, with two-thirds from outside the kingdom. Usually, up to two million Muslims perform the Hajj, which is required at least once in a lifetime. 

Faith leaders crucially important to combat vaccine hesitancy

Research on Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy survey has found differences between religious groups and pointed to the crucial importance of faith leadership in increasing take up. Confidence over vaccine safety has grown in many ethnic minority groups and 67 per cent of Muslims now express confidence — up from 23 per cent last year. The Muslim community has more faith in its leaders than any other religious group and less in NHS care. It is most likely to believe the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots and that Covid vaccines contain pork products. Dr Siobhan McAndrew, senior lecturer in quantitative social science at Bristol University, said: “The connections that the religiously active have with religious peers, faith community leaders and with the NHS’s diverse workforce serve as a valuable communications resource. Tailored messaging via these channels will address specific community needs, reassure the cautious and support vaccine confidence.” The research, from Bristol University and Kings College London, is based on a survey of 4,896 UK adults aged 18 to 75 between 1 and 16 April.

Faith leaders honoured by the Queen

Many people of faith have been awarded honours in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The list includes Noël Tredinnick, founder of the All Souls Langham Place orchestra who has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to church music and to music education; Canon Nigel Biggar, CBE, of Christ Church, Oxford, for services to higher education; Simon Mayo, MBE, for services to broadcasting; Hamid Patel, chief executive of Star Academies, knighted for services to education; and Dilwar Hussein, MBE, for services to interfaith and social cohesion. The Church Times and the Muslim Council of Britain have full lists.

Chester theology and religious studies redundancies saved

Chester University has reversed a decision to declare compulsory redundancies in the department of theology and religious studies, following a campaign including a petition and open letter to university authorities. Signatories included professors at leading universities, led by TRS-UK. The reversal was made in an announcement on Friday and warmly received by staff who said: “We’re relieved, bruised, and standing in solidarity with colleagues still at risk in @uochester and elsewhere.”

Boris Johnson asked: Do you believe in God?

Boris Johnson, asked by ITV’s Robert Peston whether he believed in God, replied with scripture. Quoting Psalm 14, he said: “The foolish man has said in his heart there is no God.” And there the interview ended. Premier Christian news picked up the story here.

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