Religion news 29 June 2022

Image credit: Church of England

£20 million allocated to drive CofE racial justice programme

The Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice has published the first of six reports on how to implement cultural and structural change within the Church of England. In a foreword, the Commission’s chair Lord Paul Boateng, said it was a painful process as the examination of racism was often met with denial and delay, which “must not go unchallenged”. The Commission is asking for a minimum of £20 million to be set aside to deliver the 47 recommendations of the earlier taskforce report “From Lament to Action”, adding that it was disappointing “how little thought has seemingly gone into utilising existing funding streams”. It is also advocating fundamental change to the process for removing statues and memorials associated with the slave trade. It says the guidance is inadequate and incomplete and does not give sufficient consideration to the communities impacted, or the authorities in charge of the buildings. The Consistory Court Process is too expensive and the Chancellors / judges should be drawn from a more ethnically diverse pool and receive diversity training.  The Commission expects each diocese to develop a racial justice strategy by the end of the financial year. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has welcomed the report.

Catholic church members dream of a better future

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have released a document summarising a consultation over the winter into a new type of church organisation based around synods, including laity and clergy, in decision making. The “National Synthesis Document” says that people remarked on the novelty of speaking freely and being heard, dreaming of a better future and a renewed understanding of the church. The report says the place of women as a silenced unrecognised majority, was a recurring concern, with their talents not being fully used and specifically not in ministry. LGBTQ+ people felt sidelined and invisible. Young people wanted to be listened to and valued. A common complaint was that community life was “subject to the whims of the incoming priest, who can undo in an instant what has taken years to build”.  The abuse crisis is cited as a reason for people leaving the church and led many Catholics to keep their faith private. The report will be discussed by the bishops and then submitted to Rome.

Pope sorrowful for deaths of 46 migrants near Mexico border

Pope Francis has expressed his sorrow at the deaths of 46 people inside a lorry near the Mexico border in San Antonio, Texas, believed to be the victims of a human smuggling gang. The lorry was discovered in a remote area on a day when temperatures hit 39 degrees. In a tweet, the Pope said: “I sorrowfully heard the news of the tragedy of the #migrants in Texas and #Melilla. Let us #PrayTogether for these brothers and sisters who died following their hope of a better life; and for ourselves, may the Lord might open our hearts so these misfortunes never happen again.”

Man aged 101 jailed for Holocaust accessory to murder charges

A man aged 101 has been jailed for five years in Germany, after being convicted of being an accessory to the murder of 3,518 people at the Sachsenhausen  Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. He had denied being an SS guard at the camp but judges concluded that he had been an enlisted member of the Nazi paramilitary wing. Jewish News reports an interview with Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock who said: “The passage of time is no barrier to justice when it comes to the heinous crimes of the Holocaust”.

Muslim journalist arrested for insulting religious beliefs

Police in India have arrested a prominent Muslim journalist, accusing him of insulting religious beliefs on social media. Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News, renowned for reporting on hate speech and rebutting misinformation, was arrested under laws related to maintaining religious harmony. His lawyer says it relates to a Twitter post from 2018 about the renaming of a hotel after a Hindu god. BBC story here

Evangelical MP Danny Kruger at centre of abortion row

Danny Kruger, conservative evangelical Christian and MP for Devizes, told the House of Commons that he doesn’t agree a woman as an “absolute right to bodily autonomy” He was speaking in a debate on the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade removing the constitutional right to have an abortion. He said: “They think that women have an absolute right to bodily autonomy in this matter, whereas I think in the case of abortion that right is qualified by the fact that another body is involved”. MPs shouted in protest and there has been a strong reaction against his comments on social media. In the debate, Dame Diana Johnson MP said far-right American groups wanted to roll back abortion protections in the UK. Foreign office minister Amanda Milling said the US had taken a step backwards and the UK was proud to defend and promote universal and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Pope tells mothers not to iron their son’s shirts

The Pope has advised mothers to stop ironing their son’s shirts in order to encourage them to leave home and get married. Speaking at a mass to end the Tenth World Meeting of Families, he said. “We see many young people who do not have the courage to marry and many times mothers say to me: “Do something, speak to my son, he will not marry, he is thirty-seven years old!” – “But, madam, stop ironing his shirts, start to send him away little by little so that he will leave the nest”. He also warned men not to “take the easy road” and return to their mothers in “moments of difficulty” but instead move forward with courage. Family love pushes the children to fly, he said.


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