Religion news 6 May 2022

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Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

St Paul’s Cathedral will admit girl choristers for the first time in 900 years

St Paul’s Cathedral is to introduce girl choristers into its internationally renowned choir, for the first time in 900 years. The choir consists of boy choristers who, with the Vicars Choral (all professional singers), “enhance the daily liturgies of the Cathedral”. The girls will be an equivalent number to the boys and will join from 2025, allowing time to make practical adjustments including extending the boarding facilities and enabling the scholarship scheme to apply to girls and boys.  The Dean of St Paul’s, Dr David Ison, who retires in September, said it had been a long ambition to introduce girls: “Doing this will create an exceptional new music opportunity for young people and will further enhance the contribution of our highly valued and much-loved choir to the worship life of the Cathedral and the heritage of the nation.”

Pope admonishes Patriarch Kirill for not condemning Russian invasion

The Pope’s disarmingly honest interview with Corriere della Sera earlier this week, on the situation in Ukraine, is reported by Christopher Lamb in The Tablet. The Pope held a 40-minute zoom meeting in March, with Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox church. He said the Patriarch spent half of it reading out justifications for President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Pope told him he simply didn’t understand this position: “We are not state clerics..we are shepherds of the same holy people of God.. The Patriarch cannot become Putin’s altar boy.” He said that NATO “barking at the door of Russia” may have facilitated the conflict and likened the horrors of Ukraine to the genocide in Rwanda and the 1930s civil war in Spain.

CofE pensions board commits to robust action over war in Ukraine

The Church of England Pensions Board has pledged to continue robust action by investors, to confront the war in Ukraine. The Pensions Board looks after £3.7billion of assets and its report “Investing for a Just and Sustainable World”  says “the horror of the war in Ukraine calls for further coordinated, robust action by investors, which we are committed to”.  It explains that it is not invested in Russian government debt, has no exposure to sanctioned companies “and exited from the few we were invested in the morning of the invasion”. The Church Times points to the board’s analysis that it is ten years ahead of its target to become net zero by 2050. Carbon emissions of its investment portfolio have reduced by 21 per cent in one year (2020-21), bringing it close to the net-zero target for 2032.

Apology for Lavrov’s “deeply offensive’ comments on Ukraine, Jews and Nazis

President Putin has reportedly apologised to Israel’s prime minister over comments which were deeply offensive to Jews. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, told an Italian TV interviewer that Ukraine could still have Nazi elements even though its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is Jewish. “In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything. For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest antisemites were Jewish”, he said.  In response, Israel’s foreign minister said the comments were unforgivable and scandalous. Yesterday the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he accepted an apology from Vladimir Putin.

Methodists in Poland grass roots support for people fleeing Ukraine

 The story of how Methodist churches in Poland are helping people fleeing from Ukraine, is told on the Methodist church website. The superintendent minister in a Polish town explains that small congregations open their homes and buildings, offering advice on accommodation, work and financial concerns to families living in a different country. Methodist services are being held in Ukrainian alongside Polish, to help the visitors belong. Relief efforts are funded by donations from Methodists across the world.

Cardinal says Pope willing to pay ransom for kidnapped nun

Cardinal Angelo Becciu has told a fraud trial at the Vatican, that Pope Francis authorized spending up to one million euros to free Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, who was  kidnapped by al-Qaida-linked militants in Mali. It is not known whether any payment was made as details are not confirmed, in order to dissuade future kidnappings.  Becciu is one of ten people accused of a variety of offences in connection with a 350 million euro investment in a London property.

Campaign to save historic church at centre of 1960s civil rights movement

Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal church, the historic place in Selma, Alabama, that launched the movement to give voting rights to all regardless of race, has been ravaged by damp and termites and is now listed as the most endangered historic place in the United States. It became famous as the landmark church where protesters gathered before crossing Selma bridge on a civil rights march that ended with “Bloody Sunday”, when state troopers attacked the demonstrators. The church’s fabric has been eroded more quickly during Covid lockdowns, but the listing by the National Trust for Historic Preservation means it will attract grants and support from courts and Congress to preserve it.

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