Religion news 28 April

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Religions unite in India to combat the spiralling Covid-19 crisis

Faith groups have been crossing religious divides to support those in need during the coronavirus crisis in India, a frontline journalist has said. Saurabh Vaktania, a reporter for India Today, told a Religion Media Centre online briefing that faith groups in India were “working around the clock” to help to support the many millions who have fallen victim to India’s devastating second wave. Vaktania and one other are the only of his colleagues not to have tested positive for the virus. He told the briefing of a five-storey Jain temple that had transformed into a Covid care centre with 200 beds. “Each and every patient has their own oxygen pipe to their bed,” he said, adding that the situation is “much more grim than we are reporting”. Organisations like this are “breaking religious boundaries”, he said, to help those in crisis. He described the frontline workers as “exhausted” and “running out of resources”. He recalled another incident in which a Muslim community performed funeral rites for a Hindu family, while dressed in full PPE. Full report by Lianne Kolirin here:

Faith leaders back calls for global vaccination programme

Faith leaders are among 150 global figureheads calling for vaccines to be available to everyone in the world, saying that there is a moral obligation to vaccinate all people. They are calling on next month’s G7 meeting to ensure a global programme of vaccination is introduced as a global common good. Support has come from the Dalai Lama and the Pope has already indicated he shares the ideals. The United Nations Covax scheme has delivered 18 million vaccine doses to 41 countries, but many have low supplies including India, which is facing a huge crisis with a million people infected in a matter of days. The United States has just announced that it is sharing 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines with other countries.

Catholic bishops blame Indian government for Covid-19 surge

India’s Catholic bishops have laid the blame for the coronavirus surge: “It can be said that the main cause of this tragic situation is the complacency of the government and the lack of a conscientious public,” Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu of Visakhapatnam said. He said the country has exported more than 60 million Covid vaccines to 84 countries when it had a vaccine shortage, an error of evaluation, Vatican News reports. Cardinal George Alencherry, president of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, said the availability of medical oxygen should be seen as a basic need, made available without charge to the citizens of India.

Rosary marathon to pray for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic

Pope Francis has asked for a “rosary marathon” in May to pray for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will start at St Peter’s in Rome, then take place at a different shrine each day until the pope closes the month of prayer in the Vatican gardens. The Catholic church dedicates the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Francis will open the month of prayer on 1 May. He said the virus had demanded enormous sacrifices from each nation and he called on the entire international community to be united in facing the many challenges ahead.

Salvation Army urges election candidates to promise to end rough sleeping

The Salvation Army is calling on England’s mayoral candidates to sign a pledge to end rough sleeping. It has written to candidates who are standing for Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens in next week’s elections, urging them to ensure the government provides enough long-term funding to help prevent homelessness. Major Ian Harris told Premier Christian news that homelessness had become worse during the pandemic with 55 per cent of people new to the streets. The Salvation Army provides more than 3,000 places in supported housing across the UK.

Methodist conference hastily rearranged after hotel cancels booking

The Methodist church has announced that the annual conference venue, Hilton Birmingham Metropole, has announced it will remain closed until September, meaning that the conference scheduled for the end of June must be rearranged. The church is looking for alternative conference facilities and accommodation in the Birmingham area, but has contingency plans to meet online if needed. Ordinations will continue as planned.

Assassination attempt on bishop-elect in south Sudan

Father Christian Carlassare, the Catholic bishop elect of Rumbek in south Sudan, has survived an assassination attempt. He was shot and wounded in both legs by unknown gunmen at his residence early yesterday. Police have arrested 24 suspects

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