Religion news 25 March 2022

Dnipro Kids find refuge in Scotland. Image credit: Virgin Atlantic facebook

Ukraine news

One month after the war began .. President Zelensky asks people to take to the streets in a show of support for Ukraine; Mariupol council says 15,000 people have been deported to Russia;  NATO approves increase in forces for Eastern Europe; Biden says NATO has never been more united; UK sending 6,000 more missiles to Ukraine; Russian ship destroyed and two others damaged in port of Berdyansk

52 orphans rescued from Ukraine in Jewish led mercy mission

Sally Becker, the Angel of Mostar, has accompanied a rescue mission taking 52 orphans from Dnipro in southern Ukraine, via Poland to Scotland. The Jewish Chronicle tells the compelling story of how  Sally, who also rescued children from the Bosnia war, travelled across Ukraine to pick them up. A team including the Israeli charity Magen David Adom, Judge Robert Rinder, SNP MP Ian Blackford, former MP Richard Harrington and Virgin Atlantic, fought through bureaucratic red tape in the rescue effort. The children are cared for by the charity “Dnipro kids” set up by Scottish football supporters, after Hibernian FC played Dnipropetrovsk in the UEFA Cup, and they arrived in Scotland this week.

Ukraine refugees may be housed at Bishopthorpe Palace

The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, who lives at Bishopthorpe Palace near York, is considering housing Ukraine refugees. The Yorkshire Post quotes him saying: “At the moment, like many people, I’m thinking about the huge numbers of refugees from Ukraine who are our neighbours. Where I live at Bishopthorpe we are exploring how we can offer accommodation and support to those in need through the Government scheme that is being developed. I know I’m not alone in that..” Church of England clergy and members are being urged to consider offering hospitality and sign up to the government Homes For Ukraine scheme.

Methodists urge support for homes for refugees

The Methodist church is encouraging its members to sign up to the scheme resettling Ukraine refugees in the UK.  It is asking people to promote the government scheme Homes for Ukraine to churches and communities. It hopes to keep a record of people who have registered as hosts to offer support.  It says there are about 300 Methodists in Ukraine and those helping them in neighbouring countries will contact the church if refugees ask to stay with a fellow Methodist.

Worldwide Catholic gesture to pray for peace in Ukraine

The Pope has invited every Catholic Bishop in the world to join together today for a global prayer of solidarity for Ukraine – a “solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” In his letter of invitation, he lamented the immense suffering which the war is inflicting, threatening world peace. The act will take place this evening (25 March) at 6.30pm Rome time in St. Peter’s Basilica. The bishops of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland will join in.

Catholic charities warn of human trafficking on Ukraine’s borders

Catholic aid groups have warned of the risk of human trafficking as refugees escape from Ukraine. Caritas Ukraine are supporting women and children crossing the border into neighbouring countries like Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, to try to prevent human trafficking.  Sr Imelda Poole, president of a network of women religious combatting human trafficking, told Vatican radio that transnational criminal gangs have been working in vans along these routes to pick up women and girls. Leaflets are being distributed warning against taking up random offers of help at the border and people are tipping off police when they notice suspicious behaviour.

Muslim Hands helping on the frontline in Poland

Muslim Hands, based in Nottingham, has launched an emergency appeal for Ukraine refugees and has charity workers on the frontline in Poland, distributing food, water and essential supplies. It says the vast majority are women and children “with nothing except a few belongings on their backs” and they are in dire need of aid.

Muslims in Ukraine

There are an estimated 400,000 Muslims in Ukraine, with most living in Crimea.  Euromaiden News reports that Ukraine’s Muslim leaders are urging the faithful  to resist and not to take any part in aggression against the country. More information on the Crimea Tartar Muslims in our factsheet here

Truro choristers sing for Ukraine

Truro Cathedral Choir is recording Ave Maria to raise money for UNICEF’s emergency appeal ‘Protect Children in Ukraine’. The choir of 34 children and 12 adults will release the recording on YouTube on Mothering Sunday this weekend and will sing in the Cathedral that day.  By coincidence, a Ukrainian mother and son, who have found refuge in Cornwall, visited Truro Cathedral as the choir rehearsed and said:  “God has led us here tonight.” Last year the choir raised £8,000 with a song about G7 and climate change. This time their target is £3,000.

Other news

Leading black church leader supports calls for Jamaica to be independent

Leading black theologian and church leader Dr Joe Aldred, has said that it is an aberration for Britain to rule Jamaica and supports calls for the country to be independent. The campaign for independence has been central to the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were told to their face by Jamaica’s Prime Minister that its ambition was to be an independent, fully developed and prosperous country. Dr Aldred’s family come from Jamaica and he told Premier Christian News:  “The people most responsible for taking enslaved Africans – my ancestors – there were British, and before the British, the Spanish. Now, 500 years later, it’s still that same empirical force – the power that took us there, ruled over us enslaved us, dehumanised us. For it to, somehow reconfigured, continue to be head of an independent state, like Jamaica, to me is an aberration.”

Chelsea football club bidders knocked back after Islamophobia claim

The American Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs baseball team and are bidding to buy Chelsea football club, have been forced to issue a statement denying they have issues with Muslims. It follows emails emerging where Muslims were described as the enemy. In a statement tweeted by AP’s sports reporter, they say racism and Islamophobia have no place in society and respect for diversity and inclusion are central to their values. There are several Muslim players in the Chelsea team.

Two friars spreading the gospel in America’s baseball stadiums

Two Franciscan friars, Casey Cole and “Tito” Serrano, plan to visit all 30 major league baseball stadiums in America, “inviting people home” to the church. They came up with the scheme nine years ago but this year it is finally happening. They plan to celebrate masses and preach the gospel: “Since we were kids, we dreamt of traveling the country, seeing a baseball game in every stadium. Something about being on the road, enjoying America’s pastime, is an adventure we had to fulfill”



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