Religion news 6 December 2021

Image credit: © Mazur/ CCLicense2.0

Pope says global indifference to refugees is “shipwreck of civilisation”

Pope Francis has condemned the exploitation of migrants for political purposes saying the global indifference to their plight is the “shipwreck of civilisation”. He was speaking on a visit to the refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, which he first visited five years ago. As he was greeted by  thousands of migrants, he warned that little had changed in the world’s response to the migrant crisis, with flashpoints in Belarus, the English channel and the Mediterranean, which is becoming “a grim cemetery without tombstones”. What is needed is not unilateral actions but wide-ranging policies, he said. Cardinal Vincent Nichols added his support, saying safe passage and just responses have to be found for refugees.

Weekly church attendance is one third down since pandemic

A report produced for the Evangelical Alliance says average weekly church attendance since the pandemic has dropped by 32 per cent, with people attending fortnightly, monthly or online instead. There is a 60 per cent drop in volunteering and 24 per cent of those that offered youth work are now no longer offering this. The survey was among more than 2,000 predominantly evangelical Christians, in October.

Jewish representatives light Hanukkah candles at scene of abuse in central London

The victims of antisemitic abuse on Oxford Street earlier this week returned to the scene to light candles on the menorah for the final night of Hanukkah. The Jewish group was on board a bus, dancing and singing for the festival, when a gang abused them, spat at the windows and gave Nazi salutes.  Police are appealing for help to find the assailants.

Best run mosque in Britain is Sri Lankan Muslim Cultural Centre in Harrow

The Sri Lankan Muslim Cultural Centre in Harrow has been awarded the prize of the Best Run Mosque in Britain. The annual British Beacon Mosque Awards are organised by Faith Associates to raise the standards of governance in Islamic institutions. SLMCC was founded in 2000 and serves communities of 20 nationalities. It says it is forward looking, involving women, providing secular and Islamic education, encouraging young people and serving the community through providing meals, hosting clinics and offering care for the vulnerable. The MP Rehman Chishti praised all the nominated mosques for showing the Islamic values of compassion, kindness and mercy.

British Jesuits go digital

The Jesuits in Britain are expanding their digital reach with the creation of two new posts which will help to drive forward their work in the areas of spirituality, ecology and the care of the marginalised including refugees. There are more than 100 Jesuit priests and brothers in Britain – parish priests, chaplains, teachers, academics, writers, doctors, spiritual directors and artists. The head of media and communications for the Jesuits, John McManus said: “These new roles will join a growing team raising the profile of the Jesuits’ work, which has a spiritual dimension at its heart”.

Archbishop of Wales to be elected this week

The next Archbishop of Wales will be elected this week by 42 people assembling behind the locked doors of Holy Trinity Church in Llandrindod Wells. Clergy, lay people and the six bishops of Wales will consider nominations and the voting persists until a candidate receives a two thirds majority, a process that can take three days. The new Archbishop will be enthroned in his or her home cathedral at a later date.

Twelve year old chorister becomes Bishop of Salisbury for 45 minutes

Twelve-year-old chorister Isabel Moss became the Bishop of Salisbury for 45 minutes yesterday, in a centuries old tradition. The Telegraph reports that from medieval times until 1541, a boy chorister would hold the office of bishop from the feast of St Nicholas on 6 December until the feast of the Holy Innocents on 28 December. Salisbury Cathedral revitalised the tradition in the 1980s and this year, Isabel donned the bishop’s cope and mitre, sat on the bishop’s throne, delivered a sermon and led the choir and congregation in prayer.

Billions engage with religion on TikTok and Instagram

The BBC’s global religion reporter Sofia Bettiza  reports on the phenomenon of religion which is booming on TikTok and Instagram with an audience of billions. Her film here shows nuns, imams and Buddhist monks sharing well produced short form videos on their social media platforms, showing their practices, activities and rituals and engaging in short, friendly chats with their followers. The film features “media nuns” of the Daughters of St Paul in Boston, 27 year old London imam Sabah Ahmedi, and Orthodox Jewish influencer Melinda Strauss from Long Island. They say people might be introduced to faith through TikTok, seek answers to life’s challenges or have their misconceptions prove groundless.


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