Religion news 25 August 2021

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Kandahar. Image credit: UNICEF

Christian Aid continuing to work with partners in Afghanistan

Christian Aid says it will continue to operate with local partners in Afghanistan, despite the Taliban takeover. It says an estimated 550,000 people have become homeless, in addition to the 2.9 million Afghans already internally displaced at the end of 2020, after decades of conflict. Partners are offering help by distributing food and hygiene kits as people face food insecurity, poverty and Covid-19. Subrata De, Christian Aid’s country manager in Afghanistan, said: “We’re doing all we can to continue distributions of food and emergency supplies to the most affected communities. We hope that humanitarian access will remain, especially access to women and girls in the communities as we are very concerned about their safety.”

Muslim aid agency launches emergency appeal over Afghan ‘nightmare’

The Muslim Hands charity has launched an emergency appeal to give aid to victims of the “dreadful nightmare” in Afghanistan. It says hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including 72,000 children, are seeking refuge in Kabul and surrounding areas and are in urgent need of aid to survive. It says they are forced to sleep rough on the streets or in makeshift tents exposed to extreme weather, with lack of food, clean water, and medication. “Our teams are on the ground right now distributing lifesaving aid to the victims including emergency food parcels, blankets, pillows, cooked hot meals, and powdered milk to new mothers,” the agency says. “We are also setting up a mobile health clinic to provide primary health care and distribute necessary medication.”

Pope gives €230,000 to Haiti earthquake victims

Pope Francis is sending €230,000 (£197,000) in aid for victims of the Haiti earthquake on14 August that killed 2,200 people. Eighty per cent of the Haiti population is Catholic. The Vatican says the money will be distributed to the Catholic dioceses most in need and indicates “an immediate expression of the feeling of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement towards the people and territories affected”.

World Health Organisation emphasises key role of faith communities during pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified the role of faith communities in achieving health goals throughout the world, the World Health Organisation says. Health emergencies have demonstrated the important role faith partners play in mobilising community-led action to care for the marginalised, it says. They share health information and provide spiritual care, guidance and support. Last year the WHO introduced a three-point plan to foster collaboration with faith partners around communications, learning, and engagement and it assures that this is continuing throughout the pandemic. 

Church of England hierarchies accept failings after clergyman’s suicide

Lambeth Palace and the Diocese of London have issued a joint statement relating to the suicide of Father Alan Griffin in November 2020 after false allegations of child abuse were made against him.  They accept the coroner’s verdict that the allegations were unsubstantiated, the process of gathering evidence lacked good practice and the manner of sharing information between the Anglican and Roman Catholic church was wrong. Father Griffin, 78, was an Anglican priest who became a Roman Catholic in 2012. He was under investigation for a year before his death over allegations of engaging in sexual activity with minors, using prostitutes and engaging in sexual activity with others while HIV positive. The coroner concluded there was no evidence that he did any of these things.

Retired vicar, 80, jailed for sexually abusing children

David Beater, 80, a retired vicar from Birchington in Kent, has been jailed for four and a half years for assaulting two boys in the 1980s. He was previously convicted of indecent assault against a 14-year-old boy in 1985 and fined, but he was allowed to stay working in churches for 25 years, in the dioceses of Rochester, Durham, Newcastle and Canterbury. BBC South East reports that after the 1985 conviction, Bishop Michael Turnbull, then Archdeacon of Rochester, said Beater would be “staying within the care of the church” and would receive counselling.

Methodist minister sings entire hymn book for charity

The Rev Phil Gough, superintendent minister of the Chorley and Leyland Methodist circuit, has sung all 748 songs in the Methodist hymn book to raise money for Covid-19 victims in India. He has so far collected £1,500, which will pay for two ventilators for a church in northern India. He sang the content on Facebook Live last week in short bursts of a few hours, encouraging church members to sing along with him at home. He told the Lancashire Post: “It’s come from somewhere very wild in my mind!”

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