Religion news 6 February 2024

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Prayers for the King from all faith traditions

Religious leaders from many traditions have united in their support for King Charles III, whose cancer diagnosis was announced yesterday. The King is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which has issued a prayer for his recovery and care as he starts his treatment: “Father of mercies, grant to Charles our King, comfort and sure confidence in you, and keep him in perpetual peace and safety, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Bishop Mike Royal, Churches Together in England: @ChurchesEngland : “All at Churches Together in England are praying for His Majesty King Charles III to make a full and speedy recovery as he undergoes medical treatment for cancer. May His Majesty and the whole Royal Family be strengthened at this time” –  Gen Sec Bishop @_mikeroyal

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell: “Please join me in praying for His Majesty the King and all the Royal Family. May he and all who suffer with cancer know the healing presence of God’s love.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols @CardinalNichols Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster & President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales: “I am saddened to learn that King Charles is now facing a time of treatment for cancer. On behalf of the entire Catholic Community in England and Wales, I offer His Majesty our warmest wishes and assurance of steadfast prayers for his full and speedy recovery. God bless the King”.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis @chiefrabbi: “I am saddened to have heard about His Majesty The King’s diagnosis. I know that the Jewish communities of Great Britain and the Commonwealth will join me in wishing him a Refuah Sheleima – a complete and swift recovery”.

Muslim Council of Britain: @MuslimCouncil: “Our thoughts are with His Majesty and the Royal Family following the sad news of his recent cancer diagnosis. We express our sincere well wishes for his ongoing treatment and commend his positive outlook”.

Hindu Council UK @hindu_counciluk: “We are sorry to hear about King Charles’s cancer diagnosis. On behalf of HCUK and Hindu community we offer best wishes and support to #KingCharles and  @RoyalFamily and pray for his quick recovery”.

Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John: “I was deeply concerned to hear of The King’s illness, and we wish to assure him of our special prayers for his swift recovery to full health. His Majesty has always had a special relationship with the people of Wales, and I know they will hold him and his family in their hearts and in their thoughts at this time.”

Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Sally Foster-Fulton @churchmoderator: “We are extremely sad to hear that His Majesty King Charles has been diagnosed with cancer. This is a diagnosis that many face in their lifetime and which is always shocking news to receive. We assure the King of our prayers as he undergoes treatment and wish him well for a speedy recovery. We remember too Her Majesty the Queen and other members of The Royal Family in our prayers during this difficult time”.

Archbishop of Armagh, Church of Ireland, Archbishop John McDowell: “I was saddened to learn of the King’s diagnosis of cancer and ask that the King and his family should be remembered in public prayer and in our private devotions at what will be an anxious time for many people. The words “Long live the King” are no empty formula or weary cliché, but are an expression of the heartfelt desire of many people across these islands and far beyond.”

Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullaly @bishopSarahM: Praying for His Majesty for his treatment and the Royal family as they support him.

Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Helen Ann Hartley @BishopNewcastle: “Our prayers and best wishes for His Majesty from @NclDiocese

Bishop of Blackburn, Philip North, said he was shocked at the diagnosis: “We give thanks that the discovery of the cancer, during recent medical treatment, has allowed swift intervention by doctors.  And, as The King now embarks on his course of treatment, we also pray for the whole Royal Family and particularly Her Majesty Queen Camilla. May they find comfort and healing in Jesus and may His Majesty swiftly return to the life of service at which he so excels.”

Poll indicates Labour party’s support among British Muslims has fallen

The Labour Party’s support amongst British Muslims has fallen by almost a third during this parliament, according to an opinion poll of 683 people, conducted by the Survation polling company on behalf of the Labour Muslim Network.  The LMN says the poll shows only 43 per cent will definitely vote Labour, compared to 86 per cent of people who were asked to recollect how they voted in 2019. But Survation says the number of intended Labour votes in this latest poll is 60 per cent – ITV reporter Shehab Khan explains this figure is arrived at if undecided voters who may vote Labour are included. Whichever figure is used, this poll suggests a considerable drop in support and the Labour Muslim Network says this is a crisis point. It says the Labour party’s response to Gaza has been unacceptable and deeply offensive to Muslims across Britain and the Labour leadership must change paths now or risk losing the support of the Muslim community for a generation.

Bristol professor sacked for antisemitism was unfairly dismissed

The Bristol Employment Tribunal has ruled that Professor David Miller, sacked by the University of Bristol after being accused of antisemitic comments, was unfairly dismissed. The tribunal found he was discriminated against because of his anti-Zionist beliefs, but his “anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and as a protected characteristic pursuant to section 10 Equality Act 2010”. His lawyers at Rahman Lowe said it was a landmark decision: “This judgment establishes for the first time ever that anti-Zionist beliefs are protected in the workplace”. The Guardian quotes the Union of Jewish Students saying the judgment “may set a dangerous precedent about what can be lawfully said on campus about Jewish students and the societies at the centre of their social life. This will ultimately make Jewish students less safe.”

Bishop rebuts criticism that church is complicit in bogus asylum claims

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Guli Francis-Dehqani, has said the criticism that an asylum seeker “may be fast-tracked through the asylum system, aided and abetted by the Church, is simply inaccurate”.  In a comment published by The Telegraph, the Bishop, who herself came to England as  refugee from Iran, says Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus in caring for vulnerable and marginalised people. It is the calling of clergy to baptise and bring people to God, and be confident that they fully understand what it signifies. But it is the government’s duty to vet and approve applications – the responsibility for this rests with the Home Office: “Those who have claimed a link between the abuse of our asylum system and the action of bishops in Parliament are simply wrong. It is saddening to see this being implied by former holders of senior ministerial office, who have had opportunity but not sought to raise these concerns with senior clergy before”. The article is here.

Council of Cardinals meets at the Vatican to discuss role of women

The Council of Cardinals, a group of nine men who advise the Pope on church governance, is meeting at the Vatican to “deepen their reflection” on the role of women in the church. They are joined in their discussion by Bishop Jo Bailey Wells, deputy secretary-general of the Anglican Communion; Salesian Sister Linda Pocher, Professor of Christology and Mariology; and Giuliva Di Berardino, an Italian liturgist.  Their discussions are prompted by the outcome of the synod in Rome last autumn, which said it was urgent to ensure that women can participate in “decision-making processes and take on roles of responsibility in pastoral care and ministry, with theological and pastoral research on women deacons to continue.

Action within days to calm CofE turmoil over Living in Love and Faith

The Church of England has appointed a second theology adviser to the House of Bishops, days after disquiet about the process of appointing the first, the Rev Dr Tom Woolford, known for his leading role within the conservative evangelical Church Society. The appointment was made as the CofE is in turmoil over theological differences on same sex relationships, currently at the heart of the Living in Love and Faith project to try to find a resolution. The project was led by two bishops, but one, the bishop of Newcastle Dr Helen Ann Hartley resigned from her role last week, because there had been no consultation over the adviser’s appointment. Now Dr Woolford will share the role with Canon Dr Jessica Martin, currently canon residentiary for learning and outreach at Ely Cathedral, who nodded to their different viewpoints when she said she would be working to model “a mutual charity within difference”. Both are only there as an interim measure until a permanent appointment is made in September.  

Justin Welby visits Ukraine for talks with church and civic leaders

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is on a five day trip to Ukraine to meet church leaders, charity workers and politicians. He told Francis Martin, a Church Times reporter travelling with him, that the aim of the visit was to let people in Ukraine and refugees in the UK know that the church has not forgotten them and they are “in our prayers and thoughts”. The invasion was an act of great evil, he said, and the people who lived through it have been through hell.


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