Religion news 16 March

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> Vatican says no to same-sex marriage; > Welby urges action after vigil; > Muslim helpline calls up 300%

Vatican affirms it will not bless same-sex marriage

The Vatican says that the Catholic Church will not bless same-sex unions as they cannot be considered legal and God “does not and cannot bless sin”. The document confirms a desire to “welcome homosexual persons” and says they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, avoiding unjust discrimination. The unequivocal message of the document  contrasts with a Pope who, although he has consistently upheld the church’s  teaching, nevertheless said  “who am I to judge?” about LGBT people, and who  has called for a church that welcomes everyone. RMC story here

Calls to Muslim Youth Helpline on mental health issues have risen 300% in pandemic

British Muslim charities and groups have stepped in to help support the growing number of people experiencing mental health difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, looking at how the community had risen to the challenges posed by the pandemic, found there had been a 300 per cent rise in calls to the Muslim Youth Helpline from distressed teens and young adults since the onset of the pandemic. The mental health charity Mind says more people have experienced a mental health crisis during the pandemic than ever previously recorded. Full story here

Justin Welby says men must act to stop abuse of women

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says the testimony of women who live in fear of assault and harassment is something that has been known and ignored for too long. He said on Twitter: “It is these sins — and the culture that perpetuates and condones them — that need our urgent repentance, our fervent prayer, and our resolute action as men.” Women have spoken out in great numbers since the murder of Sarah Everard. The violence at the end of a vigil on Clapham Common, with women being pinned to the ground by police, has appalled politicians and civic leaders alike.

Changing Attitudes CofE group takes LGBT campaign to the bishops

The Rev Colin Coward has told “Thinking Anglicans” that he will re-form Changing Attitude England, which has campaigned for LGBTIQ+ equality in the Anglican Communion and the Church of England. The group will undertake a time-limited campaign towards the bishops, leading to the General Synod meeting in November 2022, when the House of Bishops will present their analysis of the current phase of the Living in Love and Faith process. This has tried to encourage churches to have an open dialogue about the issues involved.

Church bells to mark day of reflection for the bereaved in a year of lockdowns

A national day of reflection has been called for Tuesday 23 March, when all church bells will toll to mark one year since the start of the first lockdown. During this year, more than 120,000 people have died with Covid-19 and many more from other causes. The cancer charity Marie Curie, has organised a day to reflect, connect and support people who have been bereaved, involving a minute of reflection at midday and the tolling of bells. Details here

Peace and tranquillity of Samye Ling temple in Scotland under threat

The Buddhist temple Samye Ling, in Dumfries and Galloway, is in dispute with neighbours over plans to expand shooting ranges. The temple is the largest in Europe and home to 60 monks, nuns and volunteers, attracted by the peace and tranquillity of the environment. The Guardian reports that a firearms dealer, shooting club and the US military are involved in retrospective planning applications to replace temporary buildings with a permanent structure, expand a shooting range and allow US forces to train with a high-velocity firing range within two kilometres.  The monks say they have a lot of very tame birds in the area and the sound of gunshots is terrifying.  The plans have provoked opposition from the local MSP and a petition has been raised.

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