Religion news 7 October 2021

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Image credit: Barclays

French churchgoers may be asked to donate towards €2 billion sex abuse compensation claims

In the French Catholic church, a dispute has broken out over fears churchgoers may have to donate to pay €2 billion compensation for sex abuse claims going back 70 years. The controversy comes one day after a bombshell report revealed 330,000 children had been sexually abused by clerics and lay people since 1950.  The Telegraph reports that campaigners believe compensation could run to €30k per child, totalling €2 billion. The report says Archbishop Eric Moulins-Beaufort, head of the Bishops’ Conference of France, said without donations from churchgoers, the church would have difficulty paying this money. Neither the French church nor the Vatican could find this amount and church property in France was without architectural value and unsellable.  But the commission’s  head, Jean-Marc Sauvé, said that it was up to the Church to take on this burden by taking money from the estates of abusers rather than from Catholic donations. The French commission’s report is here:

Reforming the structures of the Catholic church an “urgent priority”

A process announced by Pope Francis to reform the structures of the Catholic church is seen by many as an urgent priority given the repeated sex abuse scandals and other major challenges. Five experts discussed the proposals in a Religion Media Centre online briefing. A global synod is to be launched by Pope Francis on 10 October and synods will follow in dioceses across the world. Although the process is starting officially on Sunday 10 October, synods are already under way across the world and are already contentious. In Germany, a synodical pathway has been tackling women’s ministry, sexual teaching and the blessing of same-sex unions, which has led to a furious reaction from conservatives in the United States, who have accused the Germans of fuelling a schism. Christopher Lamb reports on the briefing here

Christian TV station fined by Ofcom for misleading statements on the coronavirus vaccine

Ofcom has fined the UK based Christian TV network Loveworld, over statements about the coronavirus vaccine. Ofcom said presenters made a number of unevidenced, materially misleading and potentially harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines in two episodes of the programme “Full Disclosure” in February. It said: “Loveworld’s presentation of misleading claims without sufficient challenge or context risked causing serious potential harm to viewers, at a time when people were particularly likely to be seeking reliable information relating to the UK’s vaccination programme.” It is the third time that the channel has been found to have breached Ofcom rules.

Auschwitz museum daubed with antisemitic graffiti

The Associated Press reports that police and prosecutors in southern Poland are investigating graffiti in English and German that appeared on multiple buildings at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, the site of the former Nazi German death camp. Museum officials characterized some of the graffiti as antisemitic, echoing phrases used by Holocaust deniers. The offenders could face hate crime charges punishable by up to three years in prison.

Father of American televangelism, Pat Robertson, steps aside from his show aged 91

Premier Christian News reports that Pat Robertson, America’s longest-running TV host, is stepping down from his role leading “The 700 Club” programme on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded in 1960. In a statement on the network’s 60th birthday, he said he was handing over to his son Gordon. The TV station progressed from a tiny operation to a global broadcasting network offering a conservative and traditionalist understanding of Christianity, with Robertson as one of the leading evangelicals supporting Donald Trump.

Flounder of Hillsong denies concealing child sexual abuse

Brian Houston, founder of the Hillsong Church, will plead not guilty to charges of concealing child sexual abuse. He was charged by police in Australia in August following a two-year investigation arising from sexual abuse allegedly committed by his late father, Frank Houston, in the 1970s. A court was told that Brian Houston denied the allegations. He has previously said the charges came “as a shock” and he welcomed the opportunity to set the record straight.

30 years of English cathedral girl choristers

Salisbury Cathedral’s girls’ choir celebrates its founding 30 years ago today. The Guardian reports that Salisbury was the first Church of England cathedral to admit girls on parity with boys and now weekly services are equally divided between the cathedral’s boys’ and girls’ choirs. The report quotes stats from two years ago saying girls outnumbered boys in cathedral choirs by two – 739 to 737.

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Plymouth and Birmingham

The Religion Media Centre is launching a project this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides. “Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media” features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England. They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life and it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to life and lasting contacts for the future will be made. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon.

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