Religion news 25 January 2022

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Image credit; Juan Antonio Segal CCLicense2.0

Catholic bishops in Ukraine and Poland appeal to leaders to refrain from war

As fears heighten over an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Catholic bishops are appealing to political leaders to refrain from war. The Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference have said the Russian military forces on the border with Ukraine represent “a great threat”. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, and other bishops issued a statement saying “We want to underline clearly that every war is a disgrace and can never be an appropriate way to solve international problems”. They say the senseless slaughter of war destroys the present and threatens the future and they warn of the “terrifying power of the instruments of destruction that makes it difficult or impossible to limit the effects of conflict”.

8,500 American troops have been placed on heightened alert to deploy to Europe, while NATO has reinforced its eastern borders with warships and fighter jets. Downing Street said British combat troops would not be used to defend Ukraine.

Calls for Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate Islamophobia in the Conservative party

 The Muslim Council of Britain is calling for an independent Equality Human Rights Commission investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. It follows the testimony of Nusrat Ghani MP, who says she was told her “Muslimness” was raised as an issue, when she asked for an explanation as to why she had been sacked as transport minister. Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain said that institutional Islamophobia in the Conservative Party had gone on with impunity for far too long. The MCB says the inquiry needs to determine whether any breaches of the law have taken place.

In an interview, the former Conservative party chairman Baroness Warsi said she herself had been warned not to “flex your Muslim muscles” inside the party. inews reports her view that Conservative Muslims feel they have to “keep their heads down” and not speak on issues affecting the wider British Muslim community for fear of hindering their political careers.

Imam Qari Asim, Senior Imam at Makkah Mosque, Leeds, and chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, was commissioned in 2019 to lead an official process to draw up a definition of Islamophobia. But he says he has received no “meaningful engagement” from ministers in years and letters to ministers have gone unanswered .

The Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed the announcement of an inquiry into the claims made by Nusrat Ghani MP. In a tweet, he said: “Prejudice and discrimination towards Muslims have no place in our society – and no place in the common life we seek to build together in the UK today”.

Former Pope Benedict XVI admits mistake in evidence to sex abuse inquiry

Former Pope Benedict XVI has admitted providing false information to a German inquiry into clerical sexual abuse. It concluded that Benedict, who unusually resigned as Pope in 2013 due to ill health, had failed to take action against four priests accused of child sexual abuse when he was archbishop of Munich. He had denied being at a meeting with local church officials in 1980 to discuss a suspected paedophile priest. But in a statement issued yesterday by his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, he confirmed that he had attended a meeting and blamed an editorial error for his mistake.

Spirituality without religious affiliation among young people in America

The Washington Times reports a survey of Generation Z young people aged between 13 and 25 years old which suggests fewer than one fifth find faith communities help them. The Springtide Research Institute interviewed more than 10,000 young people last year.  Its results suggest that 63 per cent are unsettled and stressed with the uncertainties of life, but only 19 per cent say involvement with a faith community helped them cope. The State of Religion and Young People 2021 also found that young people are more likely to engage with art as a spiritual practice (53%) than prayer (45%), more likely to engage in yoga and martial arts as a spiritual practice (40%) than attend a religious group (25%), and more likely to practice being in nature (45%) or meditation (29%) as spiritual practices than study a religious text (28%).

NHS course “linked Christianity to racism”

Amy Gallagher, a 33 year old nurse and student therapist, is seeking to take legal action against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust after claiming course materials linked Christianity to racism. She has launched a crowd funding campaign explaining her case called “Stand up to Woke”.  In her film she says Christianity was described as western and racist and she made a complaint, after which she says she was accused of being vexatious, with a question mark over her suitability to be a psychotherapist.  The complaint was not upheld. Now she is aiming to raise £50,000 to fund her action, claiming religious and race discrimination.

El Salvador priests and laity beatified

The Roman Catholic Church has beatified two priests and two lay people,  victims of right-wing death squads during El Salvador’s civil war. The Rev Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit priest was killed alongside friends Manuel Solorzano and teenager Nelson Lemus on March 12, 1977.  Franciscan priest Cosme Spessotto, an Italian who arrived in El Salvador in 1950, was shot dead while praying at the altar of his parish.

Winchester diocese in recovery

The former Bishop of Hereford, Richard Frith, has become the Archbishop of Canterbury’s “Episcopal Commissary” in the diocese of Winchester. He will work alongside two bishops and the senior clergy team as they repair relationships following anger and dissent under the previous bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, who had faced a vote of no confidence because of his management style. He has since retired.

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