Religion news 30 July 2021

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Image credit: Adaje architects

Government approves Holocaust memorial next to Houses of Parliament

The government has approved planning permission for a controversial Holocaust memorial and education centre in Victoria Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament. The design will create a screen of bronze pillars, looking like fins, through which visitors can enter an education centre with a rectangular entry pavilion, but which is mainly built below ground. The £100 million project has been through a public inquiry, following objections from heritage and community groups including Unesco’s International Council on Monuments and Sites, which said it would cause “substantial harm” to the green space and the surrounding World Heritage Site. But yesterday Chris Pincher, the planning minister, backed the conclusions of the inquiry that “the location next to the Palace of Westminster would offer a powerful associative message in itself, which is consistent with that of the memorial of its immediate and wider context”. Guardian report here

Bishop says Nigeria must address religiously motivated violence against Christians

The Bishop of Truro Philip Mounstephen says he is horrified by reports that thousands of Christians have been killed in Nigeria in religiously motivated violence. In an interview with Premier Christian radio, he said it was an appalling situation and he was concerned at the “apparent inability or ineffectiveness of the Nigerian security services to do anything to address this problem”. The Bishop chairs the UK Freedom of Religion and Belief Forum, and says there are many voices in Parliament urging the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office to take the issue increasingly seriously, recognising the violence is religiously fuelled and motivated.

John Smyth abuse inquiry deadline extended

The deadline for submitting evidence to the review into abuse by the late John Smyth QC, has been extended to 30 September because of the exceptionally high volume of information coming into the reviewers. The Church of England says it is vital the independent review is thorough, therefore more meetings will be set up before writing the report, which is expected to be published in 2022.  Smyth is accused of beating teenage boys whom he met at Christian summer camps and at public schools. The incidents were kept hidden for thirty years.

NHS England in the hands of a Bishop’s daughter

Amanda Pritchard, a bishop’s daughter, is taking over as the Chief Executive Officer of NHS England, after Sir Simon Stevens steps down from his seven years in office. Her father is John Pritchard, formerly Bishop of Oxford 2007-2014, and warden of Cranmer Hall theological college in Durham. She studied modern history at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Premier Christian News story here

Man in custody after priest assaulted while praying

A man from Cumbria has been charged with assaulting a priest at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh, while he was praying. Jason Irvine, 31, has also been charged in connection with another assault at the city’s Princes Street Gardens East. He appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was remanded in custody.

Dean of St Paul’s announces retirement

The Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, David Ison, is to retire in September 2022 after ten years in the role. He said the recruitment process has already been started to ensure a short gap between appointments “which will benefit St Paul’s as it continues to cope with the financial impact of the pandemic and develop its ministry to city and nation”.

The divine call to explore space

Days after Jeff Bezos launched a rocket to the edge of space, with guests on board, the director of the Vatican observatory Brother Guy Consolmagno has supported the initiative saying: “It would not be right to deny a human being the chance to explore and to satisfy that curiosity about who am I,  and where did I come from, and how am I in a relationship with this creation?”. He was excited at recent experiments where samples of meteorites will be examined at the Vatican Observatory’s laboratory in Castel Gandolfo, Rome. In an interview for Vatican News, Brother Guy SJ, who is an astronomer, said there was a need for regulation as space travel accelerates, but the curiosity about the universe stems from the creation story, when on the seventh day, people contemplated God and God’s creation.  “We are called to do this, and we are called to feed the poor, that the poor may have the chance to also be able to contemplate creation whether it’s through science or through art”, he said.


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