Religion News 29 May

Pic: Vatican News

The Pope is joining senior UK church leaders, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, for an online service on Sunday, which marks Pentecost when Christians believe the Holy Spirit came to the followers of Jesus and the church was born. Pope Francis will call on people to turn away from the “selfish pursuit of success without caring for those left behind” and unite to face the “pandemics of the virus and of hunger, war, contempt for life and indifference to others”. The service is the finale of ‘The Kingdom Come’ a global prayer movement involving more than 65 denominations. The service is on the Church of England’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel, on May 31 at 9am.

The virtual service is the finale of this year’s global prayer movement, called Thy Kingdom Come, which is usually filled with mass gatherings and outdoor celebrations involving 65 different denominations and traditions.

Two leaders of the United Reformed Church say the prime minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, should “consider his position” after his actions in the lockdown came to light. The Moderators of the General Assembly, Derek Estill and the Rev Nigel Uden, say the events have undermined the public’s trust in the government. “Dominic Cummings’ explanation of his actions shows how important it is to maintain a clear sense of what is right and wrong, along with the ability to be sorry for mistakes made; none of which he displayed. Trust is built on integrity and his actions have been a blow to both. He should therefore consider his position.”

The Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, will lead collective worship this morning for the UK’s largest online school, the Oak National Academy. This marks the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which commemorates the time when Jews believe God gave Moses the Torah, or law.  He will say that despite Moses’ humility and doubts, he led the people with incredible success. His theme is co-incidentally timely, coming days after church leaders called on the government to show “some sense of humility if they are going to restore trust”. But a spokesman for the Chief Rabbi said the assembly message was recorded before the Dominic Cummings story erupted and he would make no comment on it.

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu is supporting a Citizens UK campaign for social care staff to receive the living wage. He said it is morally wrong to put care workers on the front line with poverty pay. The charity estimates that 280,000 people are in underpaid and insecure jobs in social care.

Raffia Arshad, a 40 year old lawyer, is reported to have become the first UK judge to wear a hijab. In an interview with the Telegraph, she spoke of continuing discrimination and prejudice, and how that sometimes she is assumed to be the interpreter. She has been appointed a deputy district judge on the Midlands circuit following a career specialising in cases involving  children, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and Islamic law issues. She has also written a leading text in Islamic Family Law.

Global

Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has told the Catholic News Agency that changes to Hong Kong’s status in China could threaten the religious freedom of Catholics and other religious believers. China is imposing new security laws on Hong Kong, which will criminalize foreign interference, secessionist activities, or subversion of state power.

The United Methodist Church in America has rescheduled its general conference, which is widely anticipated will split the church. The conference was due to meet this month to consider a proposal to create a traditionalist wing with a financial settlement, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal was seen as the only way to move forward from deep divisions over strengthening bans on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ people. The conference will now take place from 29 August – 7 September 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Centre.