Religion News 3 July

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Vatican concern over West Bank annexation

The Vatican has reiterated that Israel and the State of Palestine “have the right to exist and to live in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.” The Catholic News Agency is reporting that, as the world expected Israel would annex Palestinian territories in the West Bank, the Holy See appealed to the parties to do everything possible to reopen direct negotiation based on relevant resolutions of the United Nations. The statement followed meetings between ambassadors of the Vatican, United States and Israel. The Vatican was concerned that unilateral actions may “further jeopardize the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the delicate situation in the Middle East.” Wednesday 1 July was a possible start date for annexation, but no action was taken. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury, have issued a joint statement opposing annexation.

American Christians’ view of race poles apart

An American Christian research organisation, the Racial Justice and Unity Centre, is undertaking research to see how race dynamics in Christian organisations have changed over the last 20 years. The survey of 2900 Americans who identify as Christian, found that more than three-quarters of black practicing Christians (78 per cent) said the country has a race problem, compared with 38 per cent of white practicing Christians. When asked if the country has historically been oppressive for racial minorities, 82% of white evangelicals do not agree, while 75% of African Americans agree.  Two-thirds of African Americans pointed to systemic racism while the same proportion of whites blamed individual prejudices. The Religion News Service reported that the author Michael Emerson suggested there had been  “zero evidence” of a closing of the long-standing gap between how white evangelicals and black Christians view racial inequality in the past 20 years.

$7million grants to end racism in New York

The Church of England newspaper is reporting that Trinity Church in Wall Street, has awarded nearly $7 million in grants to 57 organisations working to end systemic racism in New York City. The grant cycle is the largest ever awarded and includes projects addressing the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’, affordable housing and housing insecurity. The priest in charge, the Rev Phillip Jackson, said COVID-19 is magnifying the inequities in New York and “strengthened Trinity’s calling and commitment to end the cycles of mass homelessness and mass incarceration.”

Georg Ratzinger – a brother dies

The Rev Georg Ratzinger, the brother of the former Pope Benedict XVI, has died aged 96. He passed away days after the brothers met for the last time in Germany. They had remained close and, according to the Associated Press, Georg expressed dismay when his brother Joseph was elected Pope, fearing that the stress would affect his health.

UK churches emerge from exile

The Methodist church has issued guidelines for churches as they plan services after the lockdown,  “Beyond Exile: A service to celebrate a return to public worship”.  Notes for reflection say that people have been harmed in the lockdown – children without technology to keep up with schoolwork and friends, older people more isolated, people living hand to mouth under more pressure. Now the church is moving into a ‘new normal’, where “peace is offered, people fed, God’s love remembered, and shared”.

Mass resumes at St Patrick’s Cathedral

The first public mass since lockdown has been celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, northern Ireland. People were able to return to church for the first time in 15 weeks, though numbers are reduced to observe social distancing.  The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Eamon Martin, praised healthcare workers and parishioners who served others. He said it had been a time of great uncertainty and anxiety when sacrifices were made for the common good.


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