Religion news 9 February 2022

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Archbishop: “truth speaking” in politics enables a good society to function for the common good

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that truth and responsibility “goes missing” from a society that is individualistic. In an address to the Church of England general synod, he said Covid had shown that individualism is a fallacy and the Christian understanding is to regard everyone as a neighbour, with everything one person does affecting another. “..In politics our concern about truth-speaking and truth-acting is not about political groupings – or in the church – but about where we find the foundations for confidence in government, confidence in leadership and above all the confidence in one another which enables us to function as a good society which seeks the common good”. He also explicitly referred to the “shocking, disturbing, and utterly abysmal harassing of Keir Starmer and David Lammy” when they were heckled and had to be protected by police as a mob shouted baseless allegations relating to Jimmy Savile. Quoting philosopher Jacques Maritain, he said: “It is by recognising and hating its enemies that the political body will find its own common consciousness”, adding: “Does that not speak to us as much today as it did in 1942?”

The scandal of the Church of England’s failure to tackle racial inequality

Lord Boateng, Chair of the Archbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice,  told the general synod that it was chilling, wounding and a scandal that there had been no action on a long list of recommendations to tackle racial injustice. Addressing the synod on its opening day, he said the Church of England must adopt a strong strategy to tackle racial inequality in the face of its failure to implement recommendations. There is no shortage of policy or good intentions in the Church of England, he said, but there is a shortage of delivery. He received a standing ovation.

Former Pope Benedict XVI deeply hurt he has been labelled a liar over sex abuse report

The former Pope, Benedict XVI, has denied any personal or specific wrongdoing in relation to his handling of sex abuse cases while he was Archbishop of Munich. An independent report criticised his actions in four cases saying the priests accused of abuse remained active in church roles. He had earlier denied attending a meeting discussing the cases, but after the report admitted he had been there and the omission was an oversight in the editing of his earlier statement. In his most recent response, he said he felt deeply hurt by how this oversight had been used “to cast doubt on my truthfulness, and even to label me a liar.” He asked for forgiveness for any “grievous faults” in his handling of the cases. A victims group regretted he had not issued a full apology.

Faith and imagination missing from Levelling Up plans

Daniel Singleton, national executive director of Faith Action, says the Levelling Up paper has not picked up on the importance of faith communities contribution to the kind of connected society envisaged in the proposals. He told a Religion Media Centre media briefing that the paper has not fully recognised the essential role of faith groups in delivering front line services in the pandemic, saying faith groups reach parts of society where other organisations fail. “It’s almost like a secular forgetfulness” of the contribution faith groups make, he said, and he pointed to the way faith groups imagine the future and frame vision and ambition, a contribution which is an asset to society. Phil Champain, director of the Faith and Belief Forum, said interfaith work was crucial to create strong communities and it was a complex and chronic issue that the role of faith is seen by policy makers at best as a nice to have, at worst, a problem to be solved.

Concern at future of Nus Ghani Islamophobic inquiry

In a cabinet reshuffle, the former chief whip Mark Spencer has become the Leader of the House, in a move which has caused concern because he is subject to a Cabinet investigation over an allegation of Islamophobia. The Muslim MP Nus Ghani complained that she was sacked from a ministerial job due to her “Muslimness”. Mark Spencer has denied making the remark.

Shadow cabinet bishops idea symptom of managerial transformation

Kaya Burgess in The Times, has found a lukewarm response from the general synod to proposals which would transform the role of Church of England bishops, creating a shadow cabinet where they would scrutinise areas of public life. One critic said the whole idea smacked of “specialism and managerialism” and many voices were quoted saying bishops need to continue to be rooted in dioceses.  

Nineteen Catholic schools unite against academy plans

The Guardian reports a dispute between Catholic schools and the Department of Education over attempts to force 19 schools in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, to become academies run by Catholic multi-academy trusts. The proposal came from Hallam Catholic diocese, but governors and headteachers are opposing the scheme and the unions have sent a letter to the education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, calling on him to withdraw the orders.

Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner has a new role in Bromley

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, the former senior rabbi in the Reform Movement who stepped down 18 months ago, is taking up a new appointment as rabbi at Bromley Reform congregation. The community is giving her a warm welcome saying “we are thrilled to have her enthusiasm, intelligence, and spiritual guidance”.

Rabbi defends Jimmy Carr’s right to make offensive jokes

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead synagogue, has written to the Times defending Jimmy Carr’s right to make offensive jokes about the Holocaust, though deploring aspects of the comedian’s sense of humour. Carr had said in a show on Netflix that “nobody talks about the positives” , with reference to thousands of Roma, Sinti and travellers killed by the Nazis. In his letter, Jonathan Romain, said: “As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I thought the joke was tasteless, but the right to make it is sacrosanct. The best response is for audiences to boo when they hear malicious material”.


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