Religion news 9 November 2021

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Pope appoints woman to Vatican secretary-general role

Pope Francis has appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini as the first female secretary-general of Vatican City State, a position normally held by a Bishop. At 52, she becomes the highest-ranking woman official in the Vatican. The Tablet explains that she is an expert in Catholic social teaching, with a particular focus on health care and her role includes oversight of the Vatican’s department for health.

Vatican “set to lose £100m” on Knightsbridge property deal

The Financial Times reports that the Vatican will lose £100 million on a property deal at the heart of an investigation into the Vatican’s financial dealings. The report says the building in Knightsbridge is about to be sold to the private equity group Bain Capital for approximately £200 million – £100 million less than it was bought for in 2014. The report says the Vatican declined to comment. Nine people are standing trial at the Vatican for financial crimes related to the deal.

Move to restrict halal and kosher meat production angers MPs

Up to 60 Tory MPs could rebel if the government pushes through rules to restrict the amount of halal and kosher meat that can be produced in Britain. Both methods allow animals to be killed without first being stunned. The Telegraph reports that a Tory MP and animal welfare advocate is proposing an amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill would require the meat industry to provide proof of a religious requirement for animals to be slaughtered this way. He says it would ensure the number aligns with demand for non-stun meat among religious communities. Critics say it represents a crackdown on religious freedoms.

Scottish government rejects buffer zones around abortion clinics

The Scottish government has refused to allow buffer zones around abortion clinics in order to keep protesters away from women seeking care.  In a Holyrood debate, the SNP health minister Maree Todd said the rights of protesters who gathered outside clinics had to be considered, even though some women feel intimidated. She said “blanket” buffer zones was not the best way to go and it was best to deal with incidents at local level. Campaigners called it an “absolutely disgraceful abdication of responsibility”.

Young Imam found stabbed to death in Tower Hamlets

A young man found stabbed to death near a canal in Tower Hamlets, east London, has been identified as Mohammed Aqil Mahdi, 22, a young Imam and  “an amazing role model”. He was found dead on Saturday morning and leaves his parents and two sisters.  He lived in Camden and was one of a team of Imams who led prayers during Ramadan in his local mosque.

The island forests preserved by churches in Ethiopia’s desert lands

The Guardian reviews a book by the photographer Kieran Dodds revealing extraordinary pictures of forests surrounding domed churches of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the dry land of Amhara province, Ethiopia. It explains that the priests regard the preservation of the forests as a sacred act, while outside the walled compounds, 90 per cent of the nation’s forests have been destroyed.

Clergyman’s house sold without his knowledge after identity theft

A clergyman had his identity stolen and his house sold without his knowledge. The Rev Michael Hall had a house in Luton but was working in north Wales when the deception came to light after a neighbour tipped him off. The BBC investigated and a man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation.

Strictly orthodox Jews refusing to recognise Israel repudiate ambassador’s visit

The Jewish Chronicle reports that religious leaders of the Jewish medical emergency service, Hatzola, in Stamford Hill London, have repudiated a recent visit to the area by the Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely.  Rabbi Shalom Weiss, of Hatzola, and Rabbi Eliezer Benedikt, writing on behalf of its spiritual committee, said the visit was not in accordance with the Torah view.  There is reluctance within some sections of the strict Orthodox community to recognise the state of Israel, holding that the restoration of a Jewish state must await the Messiah. 

Global panel discussion on new international connections between religion and politics

The International Association of Religion Journalists has announced a series of discussions on religion and politics, how they exert influence, converge, or are in conflict. The series will examine their new connections and the forces they are unleashing. Journalists from different parts of the world will gather to discuss their challenges in reporting the shift. The first session is “Religion and Politics: A Human Rights Question for the Minorities,”on 12 November at 0900 GMT , with panelists from Calcutta, Islamabad Colombo, Delhi and Bangladesh.

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

The Religion Media Centre has launched 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. The Leeds event was last week. Here are the next four:

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