Religion news 4 January 2022

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Happy New Year!

In his new year message, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has urged world leaders to agree and implement a fair solution on climate change, which is causing extreme weather, droughts, famines and and conflict affecting the most vulnerable people in the world.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, spoke of the “flow of love” shown by people serving others on the front line during the pandemic, which he said was prompted by God and this source of joy was the best reason for wishing each other a happy New Year.

Pope Francis called for an end to violence against women, saying it was an insult to God. In his Sunday homily, he used the themes of Mary and motherhood to affirm that women should be protected, as they bestow life and keep together the threads of life.

Zara Mohammed, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, looked ahead to the 25th anniversary of the organisation, saying she hoped a year to celebrate shared success and to consider the meaning of ‘working for the common good’.

Qari Asim, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, said he was hopeful that in the post-Brexit and post-Covid 2022, a kinder, cohesive and environmentally conscious society could be built.

Neasden Temple wished its members a happy, healthy and safe 2022, as it prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the creator of the temple.

New Year honours where faith intersects public life

Frank Field, Lord Field of Birkenhead, the former MP, committed Anglican and life long campaigner for social justice, was appointed a Companion of Honour in the New Year Honours list. Other Christians awarded honours included Dr Russell Rook, Good Faith Partnership; the Rev James Cruddas, Methodist minister and deputy director, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and the Rev Pippa Cramer, co-founder of the helpline The Daily Hope. The Church Times has a full list here and Premier Christian News here. The Muslim Council of Britain reports more than 50 Muslims were awarded honours including Sara Khan, former leadcommissioner, Commission for Countering Extremism, who was made a dame. The Jewish Chronicle lists several Jewish people given honours including money-saving expert Martin Lewis and nine Holocaust survivors.

The resting place of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, loved and admired South African Anglican leader, has been laid to rest in the Cape Town cathedral where he once preached. He died aged 90 on 26 December and tributes flowed in from across the globe. His former press secretary John Allen, who wrote his biography Rabble-Rouser for Peace, spoke of his passion, courage, faith and deep insight. And Canon Professor Richard Burridge, former Dean of King’s College London, wrote of his hours in prayer, rising at 4am for contemplation, before taking action and speaking out. The archbishop asked for a simple funeral and his ashes were interred under a tombstone by the great altar of St George’s Cathedral.

Tutufication’ of the Church of England

A proposal that the Church of England needs “a brave Tutufication”, allowing bishops more creativity, freedom of speech and honesty about what they believe and a commitment to social justice, has caused a stir on social media. The idea came from Canon Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s college, Cambridge, in a letter to The Times, days after the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He said that faced with issues of safeguarding, finance and downsizing, bishops were finding it hard to be symbols of integrity and had been forced into theological and moral camouflage, when the church and public arena need imaginative, honest input.

‘Shocking’ rate of closures in Church of England

The Telegraph has conducted its own research using Church of England data to conclude that 423 churches were shut between 2010 and 2019. The report quotes the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Andrew Nunn, saying the rate of closures is “shocking” and he is concerned at policies that erode the parish system, which is the bedrock of the Church of England. The report, by Gabriella Swerling, says the total number of churches has fallen from 16,436 in 1987 to 15,496 in 2019, a decline of 6 per cent.

Mother Theresa’s charity prevented from receiving foreign funding

The Missionaries of Charity, started by Mother Theresa in India, is being prevented from receiving funds from abroad after the government judged it had hurt the religious sentiment of Hindus. The Guardian reports that a police investigation has been launched and the charity has been denied a licence to receive foreign money. It is one of 6,000 NGOs that can no longer receive foreign funding, including Oxfam India, which works in 16 states.

First media Zoom briefing of the year

Please join us at 1200 today (Tuesday 4 January) for a look ahead to key religious stories we are expecting to make the news in 2022. The list includes the Lambeth conference of bishops; the future of Methodism in the States; religion and the USA midterms; racial justice commission in the UK; expected church closures; frontline response to economic downturn and poverty in the UK; impact of covid on religious organisations and response to vaccine roll out; climate change and Cop27; trends in the Catholic church; the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the UK. We have a panel of guests and our own reporters dusting off the slower pace of the holiday season to get us into gear for this year.

For joining details email [email protected]


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