Religion news 23 May 2022

Image credit: Church of Scotland

Church of Scotland poised to vote in favour of same sex marriage

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, meeting this week, will vote on  allowing ministers and deacons to conduct same-sex marriages, following a consultation which showed a majority in favour.  Another measure calls for a ban on conversion therapy. Also on the agenda are continuing financial pressures, which have led the church to review the number of presbyteries and other church buildings; and a formal declaration of friendship with the Catholic Church in Scotland. On its opening day, the Assembly voted to support ministers struggling with fuel poverty.

Scott Morrison quotes Bible in final speech as Australian PM

The outgoing Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, a committed member of the Horizon Pentecostal church, quoted from scripture while speaking at a church meeting yesterday, in what he said was his last address as PM.  In an emotional delivery, he quoted from Habbakuk, that even if the harvest fails “I will rejoice in God”; and Micah, “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise”. He said the last four years had been ”a difficult walk”. In his premiership, he referenced his conservative faith for example in the “evil” of identity politics, social media’s “corrosive threat” and his laying on of hands on people forced into evacuation centres.  His attempts to make religious organisations exempt from  anti-discrimination rules, caused division and failed.

Welsh government does not endorse evangelist Franklin Graham’s views

 The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has said he is “sorry to see” that the evangelist Franklin Graham was given a platform to speak in Newport on Saturday night. The event at the Wales International Convention Centre, was one of four in the evangelist’s UK tour “God Loves You”. The rallies are similar to those of his father, Billy Graham, but Franklin has taken a more political stand on abortion and LGBT issues and said the world is in moral decline (BBC Hardtalk interview here).  Mr Drakeford’s misgivings were made clear in a Senedd debate last week when Franklin Graham was described as homophobic. Mr Drakeford said such views were not endorsed or sanctioned by the Welsh government.

Pope speaks warmly of China days before Cardinal Zen appears in court

The Pope has assured the people of China of his “spiritual closeness”. In an address at St Peter’s Square on Sunday, he said he is “attentively and actively following the often complex life and situations of the faithful and pastors”, and that he prays every day for them. He spoke of his hope that the church would live in freedom and tranquillity, in communion with the universal Church, and offer a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society. His comments come days after 90 year old Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested on suspicion of colluding with  foreign forces to endanger China’s national security. He is reported to be due in court tomorrow (24 May)

Catholic archbishop won’t allow Nancy Pelosi to take communion due to pro-abortion stand

The Associated Press reports that the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco will no longer allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion because of her support for abortion rights.  She has vowed to codify into law a constitutional right to abortion, set by the  Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, which is under threat of being overturned by a conservative majority in the current Supreme Court.  Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said he was acting after trying to “help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking”. Individual bishops have authority to decide on this issue in their own diocese

APPG to campaign for women refused a Jewish “get” divorce

An All Party Parliamentary Group has been set up to assist women who are refused a “get” Jewish divorce.  Its co-chairs are Conservative MP Nickie Aiken and Labour’s Karen Buck, with several officers historically associated with the issue. The group was called for after a man was recently jailed for domestic abuse, after refusing his wife a “get”.  The MPs say women are trapped in marriages which are over and in need of support.

Vicar in jail over oil fuel depot protest

The  Rev Bill White, a retired 67 year old Anglican vicar, is being held on remand at HMP Birmingham after protesting outside the Kingsbury Oil Depot in Tamworth. Christian Climate Action says the protest was held to stop the government granting new licenses for gas and oil exploration, and went ahead despite a High Court injunction banning protestors from the site. It quotes him saying the protest is a matter of justice and if left unresolved, would mean that “our children and grandchildren will not be able to enjoy life as we know it.”

Pope Francis launches Laudato Si week highlighting climate change

Pope Francis has inaugurated Laudato Si week, marking the seventh anniversary of his landmark encyclical on creation care with a series of international events on climate change. These include special masses, a ‘No More Biodiversity Collapse’ webinar this morning and a focus on ‘Fossil Fuels, Violence, and the Climate Crisis’ on Wednesday. Next Sunday, an all-day prayer event will be held on the theme ‘Community resilience and empowerment as part of our Synodal Journey.’

Vaisakhi procession finally held in Nottingham

Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi on the streets of Nottingham this weekend. The annual event, held to commemorate the establishment of the Khalsa, pure Sikh followers, was abandoned due to Covid lockdowns and this was the first gathering for three years. The festival included colourful floats, music, festival food and a procession – Nagar Kirtan – led by five men representing the first five men to be initiated into the Khalsa.  BBC story and pictures here


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