Religion news 25 April 2022

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Image credit: pomisna.info

President Putin’s Easter message of life, goodness and justice

President Putin was pictured attending a Russian Orthodox Easter service this weekend, releasing a statement: “Easter brings Orthodox Christians and all Russians celebrating Easter Sunday together around high moral ideals and values, inspiring the best in people, as well as belief in the triumph of life, goodness and justice”. The Telegraph says the Ukraine secret service recorded Russian soldiers saying they had written “Christ is risen” on missiles.

Fear and suspicion at Easter celebration in Orthodox church linked to Moscow

Reporting for the Guardian, Isobel Koshiw and Ed Ram in Kyiv describe a service at the Pechersk Lavra, a monastery complex with allegiance to the Russian Orthodox church in Moscow. The services held on the night before Easter Sunday  usually  involve processions and gatherings outside, but due to curfews this year, worshippers had special permission to gather at the monastery from 11pm to 5am. The Orthodox church still linked to Moscow is regarded with suspicion in Ukraine and the Guardian reports that priests forbade picture taking, saying the authorities would be displeased if large numbers attended the service.

Prayers for Ukraine soldiers at Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Kyiv

In Kyiv, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is aligned to Constantinople not Russia, held services at St. Michael’s Cathedral on the evening of Easter Sunday.  It was led by Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine and the church press office reported that Orthodox leaders from Simferopol and Crimea, Vishorod, Luhansk and Starobilsk joined the service on Sunday morning when “prayers were said for the soldiers defending Ukraine, for the government and the people, and for the repose of the souls of the defenders of Ukraine”.

Pope suspends meeting with Patriarch Kirill

Pope Francis has said that a proposed meeting with the Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill  has been suspended after Vatican diplomats warned that holding the meeting in June “could lead to much confusion.” It had been thought he would meet the Patriarch in Jerusalem, but he announced the change of plan in an interview with the Argentine daily La Nacion. He also revealed that he has no plans to visit Kyiv while the war is ongoing.

Top Vatican role goes to a woman

Sister Alessandra Smerilli, an economist at the Vatican, has been appointed to a high ranking role as secretary of the office for human development, overseeing policy on refugees, the environment, charity and Covid-19 response.  Her senior appointment follows a promise by the Pope last month that laypeople, including women, could head Vatican departments.

Church of England on its fifth Head of Safeguarding in four years

Andrew Graystone, campaigner for survivors of sex abuse in the church, has expressed concern that the Church of England is once more advertising for a Head of Safeguarding, its fifth in four years. He told the Sunday programme on Radio 4 that they arrived full of optimism, looked at the  constraints they were under and left. The Bishop of Birkenhead, Julie Conalty a former social worker, said it was a difficult complex job in a church which was resistant to change. “We are not an easy organisation to work with”, she said.

Evangelical school cuts ties with Franklin Graham’s charity Samaritan’s Purse

St Lawrence College in Ramsgate has withdrawn support for the Samaritan’s Purse charity run by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham. The school, which has an evangelical tradition and Christian ethos, had taken part in the charity’s Christmas shoebox gift campaign, where children create a gift which is shipped to children in poverty or living in war zones. But a parent complained at Franklin Graham’s trenchant conservative views on same sex relationships and the school withdrew support. This has caused a row with other Christian parents saying the school has failed to stand with them.

Building a more united society during Ramadan

New Horizons in British Islam is putting out a filmed reflection every day during Ramadan, with people from different faiths and none, speaking about building a more united society, the future of the planet, fasting and feasting and scriptural reflections on prayer and intentions. New Horizons’ aim is to foster understanding and appreciation that the values of open, democratic and diverse societies resonates with religiously conscious Muslims. “New Horizons is about living our faith in a British way”

The first black hijab wearing Muslim woman rugby player

A 29 year old neo natal nurse, Zainab Alema, believed to be the first black  Muslim woman to wear the hijab and play rugby, has given an interview to My London on her ambition to play for England. Currently, she plays for Richmond Rugby Club, but left her NHS job last year to pursue her dream. She comes from a Ghanaian family and became interested in rugby aged 14, explaining: “I am a black Muslim woman breaking down barriers – so that’s why I like it so much.”

Jewish astronaut celebrates Passover in space

Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe currently in orbit in the International Space Station, has celebrated Passover in space. When he set off on 8 April, he took with him a box of shmurah matzah (unleavened bread) and grape juice. The Jewish Chronicle says he is the 19th Jew in space, Israel’s second-ever astronaut “and the first to celebrate Passover in the heavens”.

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