Religion news 29 June 2021

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Image credit: @MattHancock ·

Bishop says Matt Hancock’s affair was “hardly controversial”

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, has attracted criticism for saying Matt Hancock’s affair was “hardly controversial”, but his failure to abide by his own rules about social distancing was of concern. In an interview on GB news, he said he felt sorry for Matt Hancock, whose “fling” as a middle aged man was a betrayal of marriage vows, but the church recognised that “things don’t always work out and ..sometimes in the middle of a marriage things go wrong”.  He added: “I think what is of concern is of course when somebody who is telling the rest of us how we have to behave during the pandemic then is videoed very blatantly behaving in an extremely different way”.

Christian led campaign to create a more humane and compassionate immigration system

A campaign to encourage Christians and others to welcome refugees or asylum-seekers into their homes has been launched by Dr Krish Kandiah. The Hospitality Pledge will work with international charities and churches to speak up for asylum seekers and help people persecuted for their beliefs. Dr Kandiah said the government’s immigration policy “presents the biggest change to our asylum system in a generation and is set to greatly reduce the UK’s acceptance of asylum-seekers. So, we’re working with the government to try and help them come up with a more humane and more compassionate system”.

Methodists debate same sex marriage

The Methodist conference has debated a motion which would allow same sex marriage, though the vote will not be taken until Wednesday. Although there were speakers against the proposal, the attempt to withdraw the motion was lost by a large majority. Divergent views, centred around interpretations of scripture, and votes illuminating the divide, were punctuated by moments of prayer.  The church has been debating relationships for 30 years through task forces and most recently a church wide consultation “God in Love Unites Us”.

Pope Francis thanks Jesuit priest who ministers to the LGBTQ community

Pope Francis has sent a handwritten letter to Jesuit Father James Martin, who has a pastoral ministry among the LGBTQ community.   The letter was sent to coincide with the Outreach LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Webinar, which was held on Saturday. Fr. Martin posted the letter on his Twitter feed.  The Pope encouraged him to be near to everyone with God’s compassionate “style”, which has three elements – closeness, compassion and tenderness.   He said God “comes close with love to each one of his children, each and every one. His heart is open to each and every one. He is a Father.”

Women may register for the Hajj without a male guardian

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said in a tweet that women do not need a male guardian to register themselves for the annual pilgrimage and could take part with other women. Only 60,000 people who have been vaccinated and are citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia are allowed to perform the Hajj this year, because of Covid-19 restrictions. The Islam Channel explains that some Islamic scholars believe that women travelling alone to make the pilgrimage is not permissible. Others, however, believe that it is permissible for a woman to travel without a mahram, as long as she is accompanied with trustworthy women or other trustworthy companions.

Only 14 per cent of Amish people in the USA are vaccinated against Covid-19

Community health workers in Pennsylvania are on a mission to vaccinate more Amish people, where only 14 per cent are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Two of the three local newspapers refused to publish ads promoting the vaccine, people don’t watch television and their separation from the world means they put their trust in religious leaders and seek justification through scripture. The Associated Press reports that Covid-19 has swept through the 345,000 strong Amish community, yet vaccine hesitancy is still rife and many believe they have already acquired herd immunity

Archbishop lends supports to National Thank You Day

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has promised his support to the National Thank You Day, to be held on Sunday 4th July. It was called for by thirteen people to pay tribute to everyone who helped others during the pandemic. It has since won the support of celebrities, religious leaders, sports stars, local councils, schools, businesses and communities throughout the UK. The Archbishop says it’s particularly important for faith groups to join in:  “Throughout the pandemic, faith communities have offered support, a listening ear and a helping hand to people across the nation. Sunday 4th July is a perfect opportunity for us to come together to say a massive thank you to those people who don’t hear it enough – whether they have helped to run food banks, held online worship, or supported those who are lonely or who have lost loved ones”. An interfaith gathering will start the day of events and celebrations.

“In these difficult times we need our (kosher) nosh”

Warburtons Soft Pittas and M&M’s biscuit and brownie varieties are among more than 300 new additions to the KLBD’s Kosher Nosh Guide Summer 2021.  KLBD director Rabbi Jeremy Conway told the Jewish Chronicle: “Even in these difficult times, and perhaps now more than ever, we need our nosh. Some 700 products listed are kosher certified by the KLBD and we are delighted that the range of certified products continues to grow.”

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