Religion news 7 March 2022

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Image credit: MCHW

Ukraine headlines

Residents fleeing Irpin near Kyiv gunned down; Civilians trying to flee Mariupol turn back as shelling continues;  US considering a deal with Poland to supply Russian-made military jets to Ukraine … More than 1.5m people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries – biggest movement of refugees since WW2 …  American Express, Mastercard and Visa suspend operations in Russia; MPs vote today on Economic Crime Bill, forcing foreign owners of UK properties to declare their identity

Russian Orthodox priest in Durham “deeply ashamed” at invasion

At least two signatures on the open letter from Russian orthodox priests, protesting against the Ukraine invasion, were from the UK. Fr Andrew from Durham told the BBC   that he was deeply ashamed – it was “a disgusting Game of Thrones with lots of people suffering”.  And Father Stephen Platt, from the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, told the same programme that the Russian Orthodox world was not coterminous with political boundaries.

Church leaders unite in London against the war

Ukrainian people living in the UK have  organised rallies in cities around the world this weekend. Ukrainian Catholic BIshop Kenneth Nowakowski, The Papal Nuncio to Great Britain Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti and the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Anba Angaelos joined hundreds of people in Trafalgar Square in central London on Saturday to protest against the invasion.

Kyiv local Catholic radio station still on air

The Catholic radio station, Radio Maria,  remains broadcasting in Kyiv. Aleksey Samsonov, the station’s director of programmes and a presenter, told BBC Radio 4’s  Sunday programme (28’ in)  that people were calling in shocked, panicked, tearful, but ready to defend Ukraine, organise aid and pray: “It’s difficult but we don’t lost our hope”.

American Evangelicals “funded Russian Orthodox”

Katie Kelaidis, writing for Religion Dispatches, charts the association between the Russian Orthodox Church and American evangelicals who have sent money and resources enabling the building of churches and provision of literature, aiming to reverse the atheism of communism.

Muslim minority fears by the Baltic

Muslims in southern Ukraine are reported to be fleeing to neighbouring countries following their community’s experience since Russia took Crimea in 2014, where 13 per cent were Tatar Muslims and experienced discrimination. In an article on the website Religion and Politics, the communities spoke of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, threats, intrusive and unlawful searches of their homes, physical attacks, and forced disappearances.

UK Churches say prayers and collect donations

Westminster Central Hall, the Methodist church in central London, has a congregation from 35 countries, including church member Dr Joanna Williamson who is working with the Methodist congregation in Przemysl, on the Polish border, helping the refugees escaping war. They say they are expecting 7 million refugees – 1 million have arrived so far – and they need support. A gift day was held this weekend.

“Please, Jesus, change V. Putin’s heart”

The Rev Ed Nadolny, a 90 year old priest from Connecticut, whose family is from Ukraine, has paid for nationwide billboard posters saying “Please, Jesus, change V. Putin’s heart”. He spends thousands of dollars on billboard evangelistic posters and says everyone has a “terribly important responsibility to pray”.

Other news:

The National Zakat Foundation, which receives donations from and delivers aid to Muslims, says it is dealing with a 90 per cent increase in applications to the Hardship Relief Fund since last year, as people struggle to buy food, clothes and pay for heating.

The One Ummah aid charity has launched an emergency appeal for Afghanistan where it says 1:3 are hungry and 2 million children are malnourished. The aid will pay for  food, clothing, blankets and other supplies to save lives.

RE teachers are calling for a National Plan for Religious Education, saying the subject is underfunded and undervalued and a quarter of schools are not fulfilling their legal requirement to teach it. The call came during a meeting with MPs and peers to discuss the problem. (The RMC media briefing this week is on “Worldviews” – Tuesday 8th March 1200. To register click this link).

Dr Adam Rutherford, geneticist, science writer and broadcaster, has been announced as the new president of Humanists UK, succeeding Prof Alice Roberts in June this year.

Ripon Cathedral is marking its 1350th anniversary and holding a celebration for the life and legacy of Saint Wilfrid, its founding father, with a year of “spectacular” arts, music, history and sound and light events.

The Guardian reports that a plaque to mark the first female priests ordained into the Church of England at Bristol Cathedral in 1994, is being replaced because it only mentions the male clergy who carried out the ceremony –  the bishop, Barry Rogerson, and the dean, Wesley Carr. One of the 32 female clergy ordained then, Angela Berners-Wilson, said the male only plaque was “very Church of England”.


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