Religion news 22 April 2022

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Image credit: piqsels

Prime minster refuses to back down or apologise to archbishop

The prime minister has refused to apologise for saying the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke more vociferously about the policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda than Russia’s war against Ukraine. The Church of England’s head of news said this was a disgraceful slur and was not true, making clear that the archbishop had described the war as evil. Lambeth Palace said Justin Welby would continue to speak out on moral and ethical issues. But Boris Johnson has not backed down. He said the archbishop had misconstrued the policy. Speaking to journalists on the flight to India for his official visit, he defended his words: “I have a very good relationship with the archbishop. All I was saying was that I think we have an excellent policy to try and stop people drowning in the Channel. I was surprised to find it criticised. What I said, I thought, was very mild, and I was very surprised.”

Catholic bishop says Rwanda policy is at odds with the Bible

Bishop Paul McAleenan, the lead bishop for migrants and refugees for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in England and Wales, has said that the plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda is at odds with the Bible. “Despite presenting the plan as a humanitarian need to combat trafficking,” he said, “this scheme will compound the difficulties of those arriving on our shores hoping for a new beginning. The actions of the people of this country show that they wish to lift up those in need, decisions of the government should do likewise.”

MPs confront questions of morality and power

Boris Johnson faces an inquiry to determine whether he misled parliament about parties held in Downing Street during lockdowns. MPs approved a proposal that the privileges committee should investigate once the police have finished their own inquiries. The Conservative MP Steve Baker, a prominent Brexiteer and evangelical Christian, told the Commons that Boris Johnson should resign: “I’m sorry, that for not obeying the letter and the spirit …. the prime minister now should be long gone. I’ll certainly vote for this motion but he should just know that the gig’s up.”

Putin seeks control of church in Jerusalem

There are reports that the Russian president Vladimir Putin is demanding that Israel grants the Kremlin control of a Russian Orthodox church in Jerusalem’s Christian quarter. Gil Zohar, writing in Religion Dispatches, says the church is named after the medieval Kievan Rus prince Alexander Nevsky and the previous Israeli government had promised Russia could regain control.

Canadian indigenous archbishop resigns over sexual misconduct

The Anglican National Indigenous Archbishop in Canada, Mark MacDonald, has resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations. A pastoral letter from the church said it was devastating news and the sense of betrayal was deep and profound. No details of the allegations were made public, except that it was not a criminal matter. Mark MacDonald, 68, was involved in an official invitation to the Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Canada to meet indigenous leaders and survivors of Canadian schools for indigenous children, following cases of historical abuse and the discovery of mass graves. The visit will take place next week.

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