Week 2: 3rd Feb – 9th Feb
Welcome to this week’s Religion in the News Blog.
This week in the News,
BBC News reports: ‘Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery’
This week, Pope Francis set out in the open the sexual abuse of nuns by clerics in the Catholic Church.
He acknowledged the sexual abuse, and stated that the Church was working to address the problem.
The Pope, while on a tour of the Middle East, made statements regarding the nature of the abuse faced by women in the Church historically, and that the abuse is ongoing, mainly in new congregations of the Church.
Days before this, the Vatican’s women’s magazine ‘Women Church World’ condemned the abuse of women in the Church, in some cases nuns were forced to abort priests’ children (abortion being forbidden in Catholicism).
BBC News further reports: ‘Russia jails ‘extremist’ Jehovah’s Witness for six years’
Danish citizen, Dennis Christensen, who lives in Russia, was arrested as an “extremist” in the city of Oryol, two years ago.
He was sentenced this week to six years in prison, as a practicing Jehovah’s Witness as the religious group was deemed “extremist” by Russian courts in 2017.
Putin, president of Russia claimed there were further reasons for the sentencing than just Christensen’s faith. However, he was prosecuted for being an active member of the banned group.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have stated that Christensen was simply exercising his human rights to religious freedom, and called for his release.
The Guardian reports: ‘Judges reject bias claim against Jewish housing association’
The Agudas Israel Housing Association in Stamford Hill were accused of allowing Orthodox Jewish families to “jump the queue” over a single mother of four.
The judges on the case ruled that the housing association was enabling Orthodox Jewish families, meeting their needs, and avoiding overcrowding in this area, which is the largest Haredi community in Europe.
Furthermore, the court ruled that the charity was within its rights to favour Orthodox Jews due to their different needs in their way of life.
Al Jazeera reports: ‘Pope in UAE: Reject wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya’
The UAE (United Arab Emirates) are currently involved in wars ongoing in Yemen, Syria, and Libya. Pope Francis, during his visit to the Arabian Peninsula spoke of rejecting war and condemning violence of all kinds.
The Pope stated at an inter-religious meeting:
“War cannot create anything but misery, weapons bring nothing but death”.
The war in Yemen is considered to be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN, with more than 10 million Yemeni people at risk of starvation.
Pope Francis called for all religions to come together and resist the “logic of armed power… the arming of borders, the raising of walls”, in fear for humanity’s future.
Religion News Service reports: ‘Trump’s State of the Union garners mixed reactions among faith groups’
In this article, President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address is examined through the eyes of religious leaders and people of faith. Trump references religion during his address, including his opposition to abortion using God in his statement:
“Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life,” he said. “And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: All children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.” Trump further stated his stance towards Israel as the “true capital” being Jerusalem. This stance is popular with evangelical Protestants, many of whom are supporters of the president.
Further statements from the president including: on the rise of antisemitism in the USA, immigration policy, and the mention of Alice Johnson, a non-violent drug offender who who became a prison minister, and how her story shows a need for reform in the criminal justice system in America.
Religion News Service further reports: ‘After attack on Hindu community, Kentucky shows the way forward’
Hindus, Christians, Jews and Muslims came together to assist in cleaning up a Hindu sanctum owned by the ‘Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan’, which was hit by racist vandalism a few days before.
The vandalism caused great trauma for the community, due to the damages to their religious space.
A suspect for the attack has already been arrested.
The attack is outlined as one within a rising trend of anti-Hindu attacks, which have tripled since 2015 according to this article.
In this instance the religion of Hindu people was targeted.
Religion News Service further reports: ‘Religious leaders hope CAR peace deal will end church, mosque attacks’
The Central African Republic government signed a peace deal with fourteen rebel groups on the 6th February. Religious leaders in the region hope attacks on churches and mosques will come to an end with the signing of said peace deal.
Pro-christian and pro-Muslim factions in the area have been fighting for control over the majority christian nation.
“The first effect of this agreement is the cessation of all violence against civilians,” Touadera, current President stated after signing the agreement.
The agreement, while not public, indicates that groups agree on issues, such as having an inclusive government.
The Guardian produced a piece on ‘Mauni Amavasya’ this week, presenting the Hindu festival in pictures.
In this, celebration, bathing day, and the arrival of pilgrims to the area is shown, with over 120 million people arriving for the festival.