Newsstand 9 - 15 January
Victoria to get new Anglican disaster relief plan; Tasmanian Anglicans say schools should be allowed to hire only religious staff; Primates meet in Jordan; Papal intrigue in the Vatican; and Jeopardy question on Jesus' birthplace sparks row.
January 15 2020
The Anglican Province of Victoria is establishing a taskforce to create a state-wide disaster response plan that will coordinate the efforts of the five provincial dioceses in times of crisis. The decision came as representatives from across the state met in Melbourne on Monday to discuss coordinating their relief efforts in the dioceses of Wangaratta and Gippsland, where bushfires have killed three people, destroyed hundreds of homes and burnt around 1.2 million hectares.
Amidst this intense destruction and suffering of an early and prolonged fire season, #PrayForAustralia is trending on Twitter with 1.07 million tweets. But it’s not just the religious that are turning to prayer. ABC and 7 News have run segments detailing the destruction and showing non religious communities turning to prayer as a last resort.
The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania has expressed concerns about how proposed federal religious discrimination legislation permitting religious bodies to operate in accordance with their faith would interact with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act. The diocese said a church may choose only to employ practising Christians and while this would not be discriminatory under the bill, it would be under state laws.
Christian leaders around the world urged calm and restraint from both the US and Iran as tensions rose after the assassination on Iraqi soil of General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s military operations in the Middle East, who was killed in a missile strike outside Baghdad airport on the orders of President Trump on 3 January.
The leaders of 36 of the Anglican Communion’s 40 member churches – including Archbishop Philip Freier of Australia – gather in the Middle East from 13-16 January for what has been described as “a very strategic meeting”. The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, is hosting the meeting in his diocese, which includes Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Archbishop Justin Welby tells British MPs at St Margaret’s Westminster that the call of people of faith in Parliament is to persevere in seeking the blessing of the country, which may mean unpopularity and certainly will mean disagreement. “It is in seeking the flourishing of our country – of every part – that we most nearly capture the image of Christ in his abundant and unconditional liberality of love and grace. It is in seeking the blessing of the world in which we live, and in which the UK still has so much influence, that we testify to our Christian heritage.”
The former pope Benedict XVI has requested the removal of his name as the co-author of a controversial new book in which he spoke out against allowing married men to become priests as a dispute over its publication gripped the Vatican for a third day. The controversy over the book underscores the conservative-progressive battle lines that have exploded in the Catholic church following Benedict’s decision in 2013 to become the first pope in 600 years to retire.
Narendra Modi's government has said that India's Muslims must prove their Indianness because their faith renders it suspect. The world cannot ignore this, writes international human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar.
Pope Francis recently removed one of the barriers facing sex abuse victims looking for justice – the “Rule of Pontifical Secrecy.” But legal scholar Christine Bartholomew says there are other ways for the Catholic Church to conceal information about sexual abuse cases.
Political controversy over the location of the oldest church in Christianity is threatening to overshadow what should be the popular US game show Jeopardy’s finest moment. The question about whether the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories or Israel came during a regular game on Friday. In ruling a competitor wrong for answering that the church at the birthplace of Jesus was in Palestine, and docking her $200, Jeopardy’s judges sparked a social media storm that could still be swirling when the tournament of champions returns to screens on Tuesday.