Religion news 5 July 2021

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Image credit: Vatican news

Pope Francis in hospital for surgery

Pope Francis is in hospital for scheduled surgery on his colon. The Holy See Press Office explained he will have an operation for a symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon, which can cause recurrent abdominal pain, bloating and changes in bowel habits. Aged 84, this is his first admission to hospital since taking office in 2013.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu put on trial for alleged financial crimes

The Vatican is putting ten people on trial, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who once had a senior role managing donations in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, on charges including money laundering, fraud, embezzlement, extortion and abuse of office. The move follows a two year investigation into multi million dollar investments, including the purchase of an apartment block in London. Becciu, aged 73, was told to resign by the Pope last year but he has always maintained his innocence. The group also includes the cardinal’s former secretary and the former heads of the Vatican’s financial intelligence unit. The case will be heard by a Vatican state tribunal on  27 July.

Archbishop calls for end to school bubbles

The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell has called for an end to the system of school bubbles, where a whole class is told to isolate if one child tests positive. In an interview with the Telegraph, he said children have been traumatised by the pandemic. Losing months of education is a serious thing for a child. He said the government should make children and young people a priority, suggesting that a preferable way to tackle the problem would be a better testing regime in schools.

Faith groups among thousands who said “Thank you” to front line staff

Faith groups were among thousands of people who took part in the national “Thank You” day yesterday, to pay tribute to people on the front line who had helped others in the pandemic. Organised by the small charity Together UK, it won the backing of celebrities, religious leaders, sports stars, local councils, schools, businesses and communities throughout the UK. Church celebrations, tea parties, sponsored runs and picnics with Jewish and Muslim women featured during the day. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “Across all faiths, ages, backgrounds and languages, our communities have shown off the best of this country. You are all our community heroes and on behalf of government I want to say thank you.”

Statues of the Queen and Queen Victoria toppled in Canada

Statues of the Queen and Queen Victoria have been razed to the ground in Canada by protesters angry at the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves in residential schools for indigenous children, many of which were run by the Roman Catholic church. They were set up in 1876 to integrate children into Canadian society – the last school closed in 1996. The statue of Queen Victoria was daubed in red paint while a sign saying “we were children” was left nearby, during a day of protests on 1 July – Canada Day which marked the country’s founding as a British colony. 

Humanist leads NHS England memorial ceremony

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson led a national memorial ceremony organised by NHS England to remember NHS workers who died during the pandemic. The memorial in Stratford east London, was dedicated to NHS staff who cared for 400,000 Covid patients treated in hospital. Humanists UK say the NHS was founded by a humanist, Aneurin Bevan, following the vision of a “materialist agnostic”, William Beveridge. Humanists have provided pastoral care, volunteered, helped to roll out the vaccine and presided over 10,000 funerals.

Salvation Army launches partnership to provide container homes for the homeless

The Salvation Army,  Citizens UK and the Hill Group development company have launched a partnership to rehabilitate single homeless people in specially designed modular homes similar to redesigned container units. A project in Ilford East London is already underway and has housed 56 people in the past year. The Salvation Army says the modular homes are more cost effective than temporary hostels and they are appealing to councils to release land for more developments.

From militia gangs to starseeds: QAnon goes pastel

QAnon rallies have changed from heavily masculine, alt-right supporters to women keen on new age and meditation, who speak of Starseeds,  Indigo Children and  Light Workers. Since the fall of Donald Trump, the movement has spiritualised and feminised, so it has grown into “Pastel Qanon” in the phrase Marc-André Argentino, a Canadian scholar of extremism.  Polling suggests that about six per cent of the US public identifies with QAnon. That would be up to 20 million people, but it is very much smaller number than the number who subscribe to conspiracy theories more generally. Andrew Brown charts the gender shift in this anti establishment undercurrent, in our article here.

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