Religion news 30 March

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> Indonesia suicide bombers: young married couple > Batley teacher fears for his life > Deliveroo seder meals for Passover

Young married couple identified as suicide bombers at Indonesian cathedral

The suicide bombers who set off an explosion outside the Roman Catholic cathedral at Makassar, in Indonesia, were a recently married couple, agencies are reporting. Police are searching their house. Neighbours said they were 23 and 26 years old and were married six months ago. The blast on Palm Sunday injured 20 people attending mass, and caused extensive damage to the building.

Batley teacher in cartoon row living in fear of his life

The Batley Grammar School teacher who showed a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting loud protests from Muslim parents, has reportedly said that he lives in fear of his life and can never return to the town. The school, in West Yorkshire, apologised and the teacher was suspended, but his family believe that failure to support him had virtually “thrown him under a bus”. A petition in support of the teacher keeping his job has been signed by 64,000 people. 

A post-Christian and post-secular UK?

An editorial comment in The Guardian muses over the likely outcome of the national census when the number of people identifying as Christian falls below 50 per cent. It quotes Professor Linda Woodhead whose research indicated only a small minority of those who ticked “No Religion” were militant secularists or atheist. While the nones are growing, their numbers include people who keep open the possibility of “something out there”. Could it be, asks the writer, that the UK is now not only post-Christian but post-secular, with continuing spiritual hunger finding other outlets.

Archbishops’ Council in charge of safeguarding changes

The Archbishops’ Council, the executive body within the Church of England, has formally accepted the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse made public last year. IICSA accused the church of failing in its moral purpose by putting its own reputation ahead of the safety of vulnerable children. In a formal response published yesterday, the council affirmed that moves to set up an independent safeguarding body were already in place and confirmed its responsibility for ensuring every recommendation was achieved.

Polish archbishop and bishop punished for alleged sex abuse cover-up

The Vatican is punishing a retired Polish archbishop and a bishop for their alleged roles in covering up sexual abuse committed by clergymen. The Associated Press reports that it acted on the basis of “reported negligence of Bishop Edward Janiak in cases of sexual abuse committed by some clergy against minors, and other issues related to the management of the diocese”. He and Slawoj Leszek Glodz, the former Archbishop of Gdansk, retired last year. The citations against Glodz were “in cases of sexual abuse committed by some clergy against minors, and other issues related to the administration of the archdiocese”. They have been told to move outside their former dioceses, and they cannot participate in public liturgies or non-religious gatherings within their former areas.

Pilgrimages to every cathedral in England

The Association of English Cathedrals has launched a map showing a pilgrimage route to every cathedral in England. Many cathedrals took their anniversaries and pilgrimages online last year and a new set of pilgrim routes has been forged in association with the British Pilgrimage Trust. They suggests a walk can turn into a pilgrimage with the right intention, dedicating the journey to giving thanks for helping someone, connecting the person with themselves, others, nature and everything beyond.

Holi at home

Hindus in India were urged to celebrate the festival of Holi at home, because of the spike in coronavirus cases. The colourful festival marks the advent of spring and coloured powder is thrown in festive gatherings. On Monday, 68,200 new cases were reported in India, a sixfold rise over last month.

Sikh ‘warriors’ hold festival of martial skills next to protesting Indian farmers

Several Nihung Singh leaders will celebrate the Hola Mohalla festival outside Delhi, with the farmers who have been protesting since December against legislation they say will harm their business, the Sikh Press Association reports. Nihung Singhs are the armed soldiers of the Sikh holy order Khalsa, an order going back to the origins of the faith. The festival is usually held in Punjab, but they have decided to hold it elsewhere to show solidarity with the farmers. Sikh PA says the festival follows Holi by one day and is a tradition established by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Mohalla is a Punjabi word for an organised procession in the form of an army column, demonstrating martial skills in simulated battles.

Deliveroo delivers Seder Passover meals

Deliveroo has teamed up with the Jewish welfare organisation Chabad Lubavitch UK to deliver Seder kits to homes across the UK and Ireland during Passover. Each kit contains a guide on how to conduct a Seder, as well as all the supplies needed to make Passover meals, including shemurah matzah bread. The service is welcomed by the elderly, vulnerable, lonely and people living in isolated communities. The Jewish Chronicle reports that the United Synagogue’s Seder in a Box, which includes a three-course meal, sold out in four days.

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