Religion news 27 July 2021

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Landmark Vatican fraud trial starts today

Ten people go on trial at the Vatican today on charges of embezzlement, fraud and abuse of office. The Associated Press explains that the case involves a multi million pound property deal for luxury apartments at 60 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea. The defendants include Cardinal Angelo Becciu, formerly the chief of staff in the Vatican secretariat of state, who resigned last year.  The trial is expected to last many months and is viewed as part of Pope Francis’ efforts to reform the Vatican’s financial and judicial systems.

Pope speaks of the scandal of hunger

Pope Francis has spoken of the scandal of hunger in a world that produces enough food for all people, saying it is a crime that violates basic human rights. He made his comments in a message to the United Nations which is holding a food summit in Rome this week. He said one of humanity’s greatest challenges today is to overcome hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition in the era of COVID-19. The pandemic “has confronted us with the systemic injustices that undermine our unity as a human family”.

£500 billion mindfulness retreat industry

Writing in the Telegraph, Peter Stanford reviews a book suggesting the tourist industry around retreats based on “mindfulness” is worth £500 billion a year. “Retreat” by Nat Segnit, tells his own story of experiencing different kinds of retreat to address anxiety and the challenges of being alive. The author suggests that mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques strip out the religious elements of meditation at retreat centres, to become the religion of no religion.

Woman preaching to convert Muslims slashed with a knife at Speakers Corner

A woman who was preaching at Speakers Corner in London, appealing for people to become Christians, was slashed with a knife by a man who then ran off.  She has been identified on social media as Hatun Tash, a Muslim convert to Christianity, who is said to be director of DCCI Ministries,  Defend Christ Critique Islam, which seeks to convert Muslims. At the time of the assault, she was wearing a t-shirt with the logo of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine. Police took her to hospital for treatment and are appealing for information to identify her attacker.

Bishops seek advice on unity talks with Methodists after same sex marriage vote

In their final meeting before the summer break, Church of England bishops discussed the implications for unity with the Methodist church, after it voted to permit same sex marriages in church. The Church of England does not allow this and is engaged in a church wide debate on sexuality, which is expected to produce recommendations by the end of 2022. The Bishops are seeking advice on how the  Methodist vote may affect their continuing dialogue over unity since they entered into a covenant relationship in 2003.  

Stained glass at Canterbury Cathedral oldest in the world

Stained glass windows in Canterbury Cathedral may be among the oldest in the world, dating back to the mid 1100s. That’s the verdict of scientists from University College London who used a new technique to date the glass panels depicting the Ancestors of Christ.  A beam from a “windolyser” was shined onto the surface and the radiation contained a chemical fingerprint which could establish the age. The windows would have been in place when Thomas a Becket was murdered in 1170. BBC story here

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