Religion news 18 May 2022

Image credit: © Religion Media Centre

The hope and ambitions of the BBC’s new religion editor, Aleem Maqbool

The BBC’s new religion editor has expressed his hopes for the role, saying he is “pushing at an open door” when it comes to pitching faith-based news stories.  Aleem Maqbool, who took up his role in April, told the Religion Media Festival he is confident faith-based stories will remain part of the network’s news agenda. He had not found any sign that some editors were nervous about religion and faith stories, only a recognition that “we need to report on those areas”.  He said there are compelling tales and the onus was on him to tell them. Full report here

Cathedrals “in the vanguard of the green revolution”

England’s ancient cathedrals could be in the ‘vanguard’ of technological development needed for the green revolution – just as they were when they were built. The bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, who leads on environmental affairs, told the National Cathedrals Conference that a route map to get to net zero by 2030 is up for approval by the General Synod in July. Innovative projects so far include photovoltaic panels (converting thermal energy into electricity) at Gloucester cathedral, solar panels, new light fittings, draft exclusion measures and encouraging biodiversity in green spaces.

Leaked report “says Prevent programme should crack down on Islamist extremism”

The Guardian says it has seen leaked draft extracts of the Shawcross review into the government’s Prevent programme, which suggest the counter-terrorism programme has been too focused on right wing extremism and should now crack down on Islamist extremism. The Guardian quotes Sir Peter Fahy, the former police lead for Prevent, saying the report was an attempt to politicise counter-terrorism policing, which was a dangerous move. The Home Office confirmed the report was being finalised before being published.

Thousands of people expected at Jewish festival in Mount Meron tonight, one year after tragedy

Thousands of people are expected to celebrate Lag Ba’omer in the northern Israeli town of Meron tonight (Wednesday), exactly one year after 45 people died there in a stampede. The festival is observed by Charedi Jews near the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a man of wisdom from the second century CE, who wrote a sacred text on Jewish mysticism. Last year, people were crushed as they walked through a narrow passage. This year, the police are limiting numbers and there have been extensive changes at the site including widening existing passageways.

Exorcism course held in Rome – thought to be a world first

A course on exorcism, thought to be the first in the world, is being held this week, put on by the Sacerdos Institute and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome.  It follows research indicating that many exorcists feel isolated. Father Luis Ramirez, an organiser of the course, said that until 30 years ago, the exorcist usually worked almost alone, or else with only two or three people. Now it is accepted that an exorcist must have a team and support.

Thieves return stolen Hindu statues after suffering nightmares

AFP reports that a gang of thieves returned 14 idols stolen from an ancient Hindu temple in India, saying they had been haunted by nightmares since the crime. The statues were taken from a 300-year-old temple to Lord Balaji – an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu – in Uttar Pradesh. Most were returned to the house of the temple’s chief priest, together with a confession letter begging for forgiveness

The Pope’s answer to pain – a shot of tequila

The Associated Press reports the Pope has revealed his therapy for pain is a shot of tequila.  Pope Francis, aged 85, has been suffering from pain in his knee and has used a wheelchair recently. At the end of a recent audience, he was riding in the popemobile in St. Peter’s Square when he stopped near a group of Mexican seminarians who asked how his knee was doing. “Do you know what I need for my knee?” Francis asked them. “Some tequila.” The seminarians laughed and promised to deliver a bottle to the Santa Marta hotel where Francis lives. A video of the encounter has gone viral


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