Religion news 19 April 2022

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Image credit: pxhere public domain

Archbishop condemns plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby used his Easter sermon to condemn the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as “the opposite of the nature of God”. He said there were serious ethical questions in the policy and it could not “carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values…Sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures”. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, seconded the criticism. Speaking on the Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4, he said he was appalled at the proposal. “It is unethical”, he said. Story here

The plan was condemned also by the provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, Kelvin Holdsworth, as “immoral, shameless and obscene”.

In an article in the Times, the Home Secretary Priti Patel  defended the plans as the act of a humanitarian nation, saying the Archbishop should come up with his own solutions.  

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, said Justin Welby had misunderstood what the policy was trying to achieve, as  it was not an abandonment of responsibility, but taking on a very difficult responsibility.

Conservative pundit Tim Montgomerie tweeted that Christians can legitimately support or oppose the Rwanda policy if – in their souls – their ultimate aim is a safer, sustainable refugees policy. “How dare my Archbishop say Anglicans like me are somehow acting against God because we favour a different path to shared goals”.

Pope appeals for an end to ‘cruel and senseless war’ in Ukraine

In his Easter address, Pope Francis appealed to the world’s leaders to hear the cry for peace in this “Easter of war”. In his message “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) delivered to thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, Rome, he said Ukraine was sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged. He thanked people who had taken in refugees from Ukraine, and spoke of the terrible stories of suffering and death. He said: “Let us all commit ourselves to imploring peace, from our balconies and in our streets! May the leaders of nations hear people’s plea for peace.” (story here)

Bishop frustrated with delays in getting Ukrainian refugees to the UK

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Right Reverend Martin Seeley, has called for changes to the “frustrating” process allowing Ukrainian refugees to settle with volunteer families in the UK. He told the BBC he had signed up to take in a family but still had no idea when they might arrive.

Clashes with riot police at Al Asqa mosque in Jerusalem injures more than 150 people

152 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, on Good Friday. Police said a crowd of masked men carrying Palestinian and Hamas flags had marched to the mosque compound, a site which is also holy to Jews, known as “Temple Mount”, the location of the second Temple. Police said masked men threw stones and firecrackers at them, so they used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.  Tensions are heightened as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coincided with the Jewish celebration of Passover.

Four days of protests in Sweden over threats to burn the Quran

Threats to burn the Quran from a right wing, anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic political party in Sweden, caused protests over four days of Easter at rallies throughout the country.  26 police and 14 protesters or members of the public were injured, 40 people were arrested and 20 police vehicles were destroyed. Rasmus Paludan admitted burning a copy of the Quran and declared he wished to do so again.

Banning same-sex marriage for religious reasons not contrary to Bermuda constitution

A legal tangle around a law in Bermuda that says marriage is a union solely between a man and a woman, has ended with a definitive judgment backing the restriction. Same sex marriage was allowed in 2017 until it was overturned by parliament in 2018. Legal challenges restored same sex marriage months later but it was again appealed to the UKs Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which last week decided that banning same sex marriage did not contravene the constitution of Bermuda just because it was passed for a religious purpose.

Worshipping Jesus 30,000 feet in the air on an Easyjet flight

A video showing young Christians singing with guitar on a plane flight has gone viral on social media. Jack Jensz Jr., founder of the group Kingdom Realm Ministries based in Pennsylvania, filmed and posted the Instagram video “Worshipping Jesus 30,000 Feet In The Air”, while on TikTok he commented  “We are taking this flight over for Jesus!”.  It is reported that he and his group were on an Easyjet flight on their way back from helping refugees in Ukraine and they had asked permission of the flight attendant and the pilot. There has been a backlash on social media. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar suggested she and her family should hold a prayer meeting on a plane, wondering how that would end.

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