Religion news 15 February 2022

Image credit: © Mazur/ CCLicense2.0

Cardinal prays for peace in Ukraine

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales,  has urged the Catholic community to pray for peace in Ukraine, and for the people to be saved from warfare and bloodshed, as Western nations warn that Russia could invade its neighbour at any time. The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy (province) of the Holy Family of London, based in Mayfair, has launched an emergency appeal for medicines and relief as Ukraine faces war. Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski told the Catholic Bishops Conference communications team that congregants are very concerned at the situation unfolding in Ukraine, but the threat or war was not new – 14,000 people have died since Russia annexed the Crimea in 2014 and more than a million people have fled their homes in eastern Ukraine, he said.

Covid case rates in England differed according to religion

Covid cases in England from September 2020 – December 2021, show that case rates differed by religious affiliation, with people identifying as Muslim or Sikh having the highest rates in the second wave, whereas the Christian group had the highest rates in the third wave. The Office for National Statistics report showed marked differences by ethnic group. In the second wave, Covid cases were highest among the Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups,  but in the third wave, the odds were highest for the white British group.

Italian campaign against church sex abuse launched today

Twelve Italian groups will launch a campaign today “Beyond the Great Silence“, persuading the government to investigate past and present sex abuse in the Roman Catholic church, or to commission an impartial investigation. Reuters reports that the campaign is the latest move worldwide to force the Catholic Church to establish the full extent of sexual abuse by clergy that has cost it millions of dollars in compensation to victims. The campaign is led by Francesco Zanardi, the head of Rete l’Abuso – The Abuse Network- which represents victims of clerical abuse. He was abused by a Catholic priest for four years from the age of 11 – the priest was given a suspended prison sentence. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed concern about the numerous cases of child sex abuse by Catholic clerics in Italy but with few investigations and prosecutions.

Archbishop visits Canada to repent of involvement in abusive residential schools

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will visit Canada between 29 April – 3 May to meet Anglican indigenous people, including survivors of church run residential schools, which are at the centre of allegations of abuse and neglect. An estimated 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly removed from their parents to schools run by major denominations from 1883 to 1996. More than 4,000 children died at the schools and unmarked graves have been found. Children were subject to neglect and sexual, physical and emotional abuse. The Anglican church in Canada says its history included a partnership with government  that contributed to residential schools, abuse and cultural deprivation. “A significant purpose behind Archbishop Justin’s visit is to recognize and repent of where those relationships have done damage rather than good, particularly with indigenous peoples”.

Church of England seeks urgent closure of DIY abortion pills at home scheme

The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, has written to the health secretary urging the end to a temporary scheme allowing DIY abortion pills to be taken at home. The scheme was introduced in March 2020 to last two years during the pandemic and allows pills to be taken at home in the first nine weeks and six days of pregnancy.  The Bishop wants the scheme to end at the end of March 2022. The Telegraph reports that Mark Sheard, the chairman of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, told the General Synod that the scheme has had a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of women and girls, though a British Pregnancy Advisory Service survey found that 97 per cent of women were satisfied with the arrangement. Christian Concern launched legal action against the scheme and the case is now with the European Court of Human Rights.

Holocaust reparation bill passed in Latvia

Latvia’s parliament has passed a bill compensating the Jewish community for losses in the holocaust. The Associated Press reports that the settlement followed 17 years of negotiations and authorises spending €45 million to revitalize Latvia´s 9,500-strong Jewish community, provide social and material assistance to holocaust survivors, and to fund Jewish schools, building restoration and cultural projects.

Global Anglican leaders meet in London next month, ahead of the Lambeth conference

Archbishops and senior leaders of the global Anglican communion will visit London next month for a meeting in advance of the Lambeth conference in July.  Representing 42 churches, they were due to meet in Rome but covid restrictions meant that the gathering had to be transferred to London. It will be a spiritual retreat but will also discuss the agenda for the Lambeth conference when 700 bishops will gather in Canterbury.



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