Religion News 3 August

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Abuse of power amongst Roman Catholic nuns

An article by Giovanni Cucci, SJ, in the influential Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, says the Church should pay attention to abuse within women’s congregations.  “For the most part it does not take the form of sexual violence and does not involve minors; however, this does not make it any less important or without significant consequences. From pastoral experience and from conversations we have had on the subject, it is mostly an abuse of power and conscience”, he said. He describes how willing and innocent novices can be manipulated and decisions can be taken arbitrarily on their future, for example, in who can further their studies, often awarded to the most faithful and docile, which can “lead to forms of blackmail and power without limits”. He said he has seen cases of superior generals circumventing the rules to allow them to stay in charge: “One even wanted to change the constitution so that she could remain superior general until her death.”  He quotes an interview given to the magazine Donne Chiesa Mondo, where Cardinal João Braz de Aviz said he had found cases of sexual abuse among sisters. The great attention paid to the abuse of children should not prevent a proper response to the sisters, he said. “It is a matter of giving a voice to those who have no voice”.

Bishops urge people to be vaccinated against Covid19

Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales are urging people to be vaccinated against Covid19 because it will help to protect society’s most vulnerable people. They issued a paper to provide clarity following an internal debate over whether vaccines are developed using tissue derived from aborted foetuses. They said that the Church was opposed to the production of such vaccines, but: “Nevertheless, the Church teaches that the paramount importance of the health of a child and other vulnerable persons could permit parents to use a vaccine which was in the past developed using these diploid cell lines… We believe that there is a moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others.” Anti vaccination campaigns, fuelled by conspiracy theories, are growing, with one report suggesting anti vaxx social, media accounts have 58 million followers in total, and a YouGov poll suggests one third of the UK population would not have a Covid19 vaccination

Eid al-Adha in lockdown

Croke Park – The sport stadium Croke Park in Dublin was host to 200 Muslims who celebrated Eid al-Adha in socially distanced fashion.  The festival comes at the end of the Hajj and is one of the most significant in the Muslim calendar.  ajj and isShaykh Umar al-Qadri, chair of Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council said he got the idea after seeing Muslims praying in an IKEA car park in Germany. Political and faith leaders attended the event  and the Irish President Michael D Higgins, sent a message saying the event was a reminder of Ireland’s diverse  community and the enormous contribution communities make to the country.

Birmingham festival cancelled – Europe’s biggest Eid gathering at Small Heath Park Birmingham was cancelled this weekend due to new coronavirus restrictions laid down by the government. Two years ago, 60,000 people attended the Eid al-Adha festival with people travelling from abroad. Instead, prayers were said at local mosques, observing strict social distancing measures, bringing their own prayer mats and wearing face coverings. Birmingham Mail reported that Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre in Birmingham – one of the main organisers of the Eid in the Park events – issued a statement saying worshippers had to register to ensure numbers could be controlled and services would take place from 6am to 11am.

New government guidelines for worship

Face masks must be worn in church and other indoor locations where people are likely to meet strangers, such as museums, galleries, bowling alleys, indoor performances and cinemas.  The restrictions which come into force on 8 August were announced by the government as concern grew that coronavirus was spreading more quickly. They will be enforceable by law. Wedding receptions are also banned for a further two weeks.

Dean: Sheffield Cathedral singing is not ‘thrilling’

The decision to ban the choir at Sheffield Cathedral  is continuing to provoke anger and bewilderment. The Dean, Peter Bradley, told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme that the choir sometimes sang to an empty cathedral, so is the choir any good, he was asked:  “Every Dean always thinks their own choir is the best but we believe we should be raising our ambition and be the best choir we can be in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, and I don’t think we are there yet actually…Cathedrals believe in excellence, we want the Cathedral to be singing at a quality that is thrilling and that’s not the case at the moment”. The Cathedral said it wanted the music to reflect a mixed urban community and the Dean has previously expanded on this by saying he wanted the choir to adopt modern classical composers in its repertoire. A campaign group has been set up to oppose the plans, they may take legal action and they have amassed a petition with 5500 signatures. Their spokesman said: “Thinking that removing existing choristers will lead to a rise in excellence is naive and signals a complete lack of understanding about the choral sector. Developing a choir needs strong singers who can lead and mentor new talent.”

Bishops urge government action on plight of Uighurs

Before the Lords rose for the summer break, Church of England bishops urged the government to take steps to counter human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim Uighur population in north west China.  The Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, said the abuses should influence negotiations any future trade deal with China. The Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines took to Twitter to agree. Uighurs are detained in re-education camps, and have told journalists harrowing stories of parents being separated from their children, enforce sterilisation of women and mass oppressive surveillance. There are 26 bishops in the House of Lords.

Bishop of Bristol takes leading role in church safeguarding process

The Bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull has been appointed a deputy lead bishop for safeguarding, liaising with diocesan bishops and speaking on the issue in the House of Lords. She is one of three bishops working with the church’s safeguarding lead. She said: “I have seen the great harm done to others and the whole Church of God. Safeguarding has therefore been an urgent concern throughout my time as Dean in Leicester and in York where I led changes of process and culture and learnt much. I am aware of how much the Church still has to learn and will do my best to contribute to debates and to enable fellow diocesan bishops to participate fully and be supported in their roles.”