Religion news 30 November 2021

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Belarus border. Image credit: Kancelaria Premiera. flickr. CCLIcense2.0

Pope says world’s treatment of migrants is deplorable

Pope Francis has described the treatment of thousands of migrants around the world as “deplorable”. In a video message to mark the 70th anniversary of the International Organisation for Migration, the Pope said migrants across the world are treated as merchandise, pawns on the chessboard, and as victims of political rivalries. He appealed to the international community to address urgently the conditions that force migrants to flee, saying that most people who can live decently in their countries of origin would not feel compelled to migrate through illegal “irregular” ways.

Notre Dame renovation “trivial and childish

The Telegraph has seen plans to transform the inside of Notre Dame as part of the renovation project following the fire in 2019 which severely damaged the exterior. It reports that under the proposed changes, “confessional boxes, altars and classical sculptures will be replaced with modern art murals, and new sound and light effects to create emotional spaces. There will be themed chapels on a discovery trail, with an emphasis on Africa and Asia, while quotes from the Bible will be projected onto chapel walls in various languages, including Mandarin. The final chapel on the trail will have a strong environmental emphasis”. The report quotes critics saying this will turn Notre Dame into a politically correct Disneyland, trivial and childish.

Vatican journalist describes multiple levels of abuse against 11 nuns  

A Vatican journalist, Salvatore Cernuzio, has written a book reporting  sexual, physical and psychological abuse against 11 nuns.  Veil of Silence says some nuns have been molested by priests and experienced cruel punishments by their Mother Superior. Last year, Father Giovanni Cucci wrote in a Jesuit journal about abuse of power in convents and said the reporting of sexual abuse of children by priests had overshadowed the abuse suffered by nuns.

American who uncovered scores of clergy sex abuse cases dies aged 69

Phil Saviano, a clergy sex abuse survivor and whistleblower who exposed sex abuse  by Catholic priests in the US, has died aged 69.  The Guardian reports that his story figured prominently in the film Spotlight, which portrayed the Boston Globe investigation into a church cover-up of scores of cases of priests molesting children. Saviano died on Sunday after a battle with gallbladder cancer.

Argentina court hears Rohingya war crimes case

 A court in Argentina will investigate allegations of war crimes committed by the Myanmar military against the mainly Muslim Rohingya minority. AFP reports that the case has been brought under the legal premise of universal justice, where horrific acts such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, not specific to one nation, can be tried anywhere. More than 750,000 Rohingya fled after an army crackdown. Proceedings against Myanmar and its leaders are already under way at the international criminal court and the UN’s international court of justice.

Archbishops seek advice on changes to social care and support system

The Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care has launched its public engagement phase asking individuals and organisations across the faith sector to suggest change in social care and support services. Its aim is to offer practical recommendations to national and local government which will be published in a final report in September 2022.

Examining media coverage of Islam and Muslims

The Muslim Council of Britain’s Centre for Media Monitoring publishes a report today into print and broadcast coverage of Islam and Muslims in the UK. It will be  launched this evening in an online briefing with a panel including BBC Home Affairs Editor, Mark Easton, and Mirror Editor in Chief, Alison Phillips.

Storm Arwen’s trail of damage to churches and cathedral

The Church Times has published dramatic pictures of  damage from Storm Arwen including a large stone falling from the tower of Worcester Cathedral through the  north choir-aisle roof causing extensive damage; several trees came down in the Bishop of Liverpool’s gardens; and a huge tree was uprooted in the graveyard outside St Wilfrid’s, Standish, near Wigan.

Creator of Spanish cathedral made of recycled bricks and bicycle parts, dies aged 96

A former Trappist monk who built a 115 foot high cathedral on a village hillside in Spain, using recycled building materials, has died aged 96. The Times reports that Justo Gallego Martínez started the construction in 1960 using discarded bricks, bags of cement, empty paint cans and spare bicycle parts to build the “Cathedral of Faith”. The report says its Byzantine towers, turrets, cloisters and dome have turned the building into a tourist attraction. Gallego donated the unfinished cathedral to Messengers of Peace, which works with the homeless.

Media briefing today, Tuesday 30 December 1200:  “God: An Anatomy” 

Please join us today at 12 noon for a media briefing with Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou about her book God: An Anatomy,  an examination of the body of God as depicted in the Bible. This is a God who walked in the garden of Eden, sat on a throne in a temple, enjoyed the aroma of scorched animal fat as he waited for his dinner, and wrestled with a monstrous sea dragon. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter, shows how the Western idea of God developed and asks why God’s body came to be overlooked or ignored.  The host for today’s zoom is Rosie Dawson. Zoom link from [email protected]


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