Religion news 3 March 2022

Motherland Statue, Kyiv, Ukraine. Image credit: Pxhere public domain

Unverified death toll figures in Ukraine suggest 500 Russian soldiers and more than 2,000 civilians have died; Southern city of Mariupol withstands 15 hours of shelling; Russia claims victory in southern city of Kherson; Paratroopers enter second largest city, Kharkiv; Armed convoy continues journey into Kyiv. … UNHCR says 677,000 people have fled Ukraine since war broke out; UN resolution demands Russia withdraws immediately from Ukraine; 38 countries refer Russia to the International Criminal Court for war crimes; Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich puts Chelsea football club up for £3bn sale, saying profits will go to victims of Ukraine war;

Ukraine headlines

Rowan Williams urges world religious leaders to unite and call for a ceasefire

Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury with an abiding love for Russian Orthodoxy, is urging senior Orthodox leaders outside Russia to stand alongside global religious leaders and call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine.  Speaking at a Religion Media Centre online briefing, Lord Williams said if he met the Russian Orthodox leader, Patriarch Kirill, he would make clear: “It is your people who are being killed”. Another speaker, Professor Aristotle Papanikolaou, from Fordham University, New York, told the briefing that the Russian Orthodox church had fought for decades to link Russian identity with orthodox identity and “somehow they did it” so the narrative had been taken up by Putin and was now an important reason for the invasion. Report here

Russian orthodox clergy come out against war in Ukraine

More than 150 Russian Orthodox clergy have signed an open letter against the war in Ukraine. They express regret at the suffering of “brothers and sisters” in Ukraine  and say the people “must make their own choices by themselves, not at the point of assault rifles and without pressure from either West or East”.

Church leaders appeal for peace while others defend the invasion

The Church Times reports on how religious leaders are appealing for peace in Ukraine. It quotes Metropolitan Epiphany Dumenko, leader of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, saying the people had prevented a quick Russian victory. The Russian website  Medusa has spoken to priests for and against the war. Report here

Roman Catholic Cathedral in Kharkiv bombed

A bomb damaged the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, on Tuesday. A video posted on Twitter by the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales showed debris strewn across the floor of a upper room in the chancery. Forty people were sheltering in the basement but no injuries were reported. An Italian news agency carried the story here

Pope prays for Ukraine on Ash Wednesday

In his homily for Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis asked God to provide the peace that “men and women are incapable of building by themselves” and remembered the “lowly and suffering who are fleeing the violence”.

President Zelensky urges all Jews to “shout about murder” in Ukraine

The president of Ukraine, Volodomyr Zelensky, has called on the world’s Jews to shout about the killing of civilians in Ukraine. In a statement he said it was very important that millions of Jews around the world should not remain silent. Jewish Chronicle story here

Other news

Further $720million for Holocaust survivors

The Associated Press reports that the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, has agreed to offer  $720 million for home care and supportive services for frail and vulnerable Holocaust survivors. The money will be distributed to more than 300 social welfare organizations.

US survey suggests 1:4 have not returned to church

Lifeway Research, part of the US Southern Baptist Convention, reports that one in four of churchgoers have not returned to worship since the pandemic . A survey of Protestant pastors conducted in January 2022 suggests more churches are open for worship but the return to pre pandemic worship levels has stalled.  

Stonehenge “is a giant solar calendar”

Professor Timothy Darvill, from Bournemouth University, has a theory as to why Stonehenge was created. He says it’s a giant solar calendar marking days, weeks and months that may connect the UK to ancient Egypt. Sky news report here


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