Religion news 8 March 2022

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The UN reports 1000 civilian casualties in Ukraine including 350 deaths; Russia has continued to attack towns and cities including Irpin near Kyiv, where residents fled despite continual shelling; Tens of thousands are trapped in cities without power and water as three attempts to provide safe escape routes fail; Ukraine reject as immoral, a Russian offer to allow people to escape to Russia and Belarus; More than 1.5 million people have escaped to neighbouring countries; The UK government is criticised for failure to process visa applications quickly, as refugees remain stuck in France.

Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine“Russia has continued to attack towns and cities including Irpin near Kyiv, where residents fled despite continual shelling; Tens of thousands are trapped in cities without power and water and three attempts to provide safe escape routes have failed; Ukraine rejected as immoral, a Russian offer to allow people to escape to Russia and Belarus; More than 1.5 million people are said to have escaped from Ukraine to neighbouring countries; UK government criticised for failure to process visa applications quickly, as families remain stuck in France.”Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine

Pope Francis has said “Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a military operation, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery”.  During his Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square, he appealed for peace, guaranteed humanitarian corridors, and for all people to come to the assistance of the war victims, especially the mothers and children fleeing. He also thanked “the journalists who put their lives at risk to provide information. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for this service! A service that allows us to be close to the tragedy of that population and enables us to assess the cruelty of a war”. Then he added: “War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!”

Breakaway Ukraine Orthodox church archbishop warns of terror and tyranny

Archbishop Yevstratiy Zoria of Chernihiv, spokesperson for the breakaway Orthodox Church of Ukraine, has said that terror and tyranny will be imposed on the people of Ukraine by Russia: “Everything that Putin says and does is against humanity, and against the laws of God and man.” In an interview with LBC radio, he said “people are angry because nobody expected such barbaric attacks from Russia like those we have been facing. People are scared for their lives”. He cautioned that forgiveness was a mutual process.

Signs of a split in Ukraine orthodox church loyal to Moscow

There are two branches of the Ukrainian orthodox church – one independent owing allegiance to Constantinople, and the other owing allegiance to the orthodox church in Moscow. The website OrthoChristian reports that clergy of the Ukraine Orthodox church still loyal to Moscow are under pressure to separate themselves from the Moscow Patriarchate. Several dioceses are calling on their leader, Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, to begin the process of independence.  A number of clerics have made public that they have stopped commemorating Putin in their prayers. Religion News Service report here

The Guardian reports growing suspicion of the Ukraine Orthodox Church which is still aligned to Moscow. Ukraine soldiers found weapons and stockpiles of food in a church near an airstrip and suspected it was in preparation to protect Russian soldiers.

UK responds to 1.5 million refugees …  £100 million raised by DEC in days

The UK’s Disasters and Emergency Committee has raised more than £100 million for its Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. The DEC includes 15 UK charities including CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Islamic Relief and World Vision. The UK government has come under pressure to create a more efficient visa system for families seeking to join relatives in the UK, after reports of chaos in Calais.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has appealed to people in the UK to show generosity towards refugees. The Church Times reports that he was speaking to pupils at a school in Crawley on Saturday and called for negotiation, mediation, support for peace and no more war in Ukraine.

The Pope has sent out two cardinals to see the humanitarian efforts on the borders of Ukraine. Cardinal Krajewski was on the Polish border and the train station as refugees arrived, distributing the Pope’s white rosaries to volunteers and refugees. Cardinal Czerny is arriving in Hungary today to visit a reception centre.

Muslims in the UK show solidarity for Muslims in Crimea already facing persecution

The Muslim Council of Britain is calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and says it stands with the Ukrainian people, “including hundreds of thousands of Muslim Ukrainians, the majority of whom belong to the Crimean Tatar community, a people who have already faced genocide and persecution under the Soviet Union.. In addition, we must be prepared to do our part in receiving those seeking refuge from Ukraine – regardless of origin”.

Other news:

Sikhs in Swansea receive the holy scripture

 The Sikh holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, has been delivered to the temple in Swansea, marking the importance and size of the community. It is thought that there are 400 Sikhs in the city who have steadily built a community over 27 years.

Exhibition honouring the “Hot Holy Ladies” Jesuit supporters

On International Women’s Day, the Jesuits in Britain are putting on an exhibition about the ‘Hot, Holy Ladies’, Catholic women who were strong supporters of the Jesuit Catholic mission in 17th century Britain.  The exhibition launches with the release of an online film about the life of one of the most prominent of these women, Helena Wintour, who created several extraordinarily beautiful vestments, to be worn by priests who carried out their ministry in secret.   The exhibition opens on 16 April at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, and will also feature high profile relics such as the Mary Queen of Scots’ Thorn, a cope, a prayer book and crucifix from Tudor Times to the Gunpowder Plot.

First national nuns football team

The first national football team for nuns in the world has been formed in Italy. Its founder, Moreno Buccianti, a former amateur footballer and founder of the national team for priests, took action after Pope Francis told nuns not to become “old maids” and to get out more. The Guardian reports that the team has players aged between 27-52, from many nationalities and includes some who were footballers before becoming nuns. In their last match, they prayed for Ukraine before kicking off .

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