News Stand

12 - 18 August

Dr Freier urges 'constant' prayers in face of global crises; Christian pastors are pleading for prayers for Afghanistan; historic Sydney church to host GP benefactor's gift to homeless; Taliban approach to World Vision reported after fall of Kabul; Afghanistan failure 'political', Archbishop of Canterbury tells Lords; charities bill 'bad law', says priest; the ethics of dobbing and much more.

August 18 2021


Constant opportunities for prayer

Watch Archbishop Philip Freier’s latest lockdown video, in which he says that it is understandable that many people have stropped watching the news in the midst of COVID and other international crises in places such as Afghanistan and Haiti. “For Christians, the way we can engage as global citizens is through our constant intercession, through our prayers,” he says. “... The world is not purposeless … God’s love can be found in whatever disorder and chaos the world presents … God is available even to those who are in the most abject of circumstances.”


‘Pray, pray, pray for Afghanistan!'

As the Taliban takes full control in Afghanistan, Christian pastors are pleading for prayers as they and their families hide in fear from the conquering Islamic extremist group.



The mysterious benefactor who is changing lives for the homeless

Who was the late Dr Dianne Houghton? Not much is known about the reclusive general practitioner other than she lived frugally, loved dogs, and worked with those in need in developing countries and in Sydney during the AIDS epidemic. Following a multi-million dollar bequest, income from Dr Houghton’s estate will support a unique general practice near Sydney’s Central Station specialising in the health needs of the homeless, regardless of where they live or immigration and Medicare status. The Haymarket Foundation, which will the general practice, will spend $2.2 million renovating the premises in the courtyard and basement of the Anglican church, Christ Church St Laurence. It will operate independently of the church, but its rent will be paid by a charitable trust, which Dr Houghton established in the name of Christ Church St Laurence.


‘We have to wait and see what is going to happen,’ says World Vision’s Afghanistan director

Despite the pictures of chaos circulating in the UK, life in Kabul was returning to normal, World Vision’s National Director in Afghanistan, Asuntha Charles, reported on Tuesday. Speaking to Church Times from her office in the Afghan capital, one day after the Taliban installed themselves in the presidential palace, Ms Charles spoke of the charity’s plans to stay in the country and continue its work with women and girls. The Taliban had already approached World Vision about starting educational projects, she said.


Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in House of Lords debate on Afghanistan

Archbishop Justin Welby tells the UK Parliament that “the failure we face today is not military or diplomatic: they did all they could. It is political.” He said recovery and hope would come to Afghanistan with the UK supporting commitment to the neediest and most desperate. “We have proven capacities in soft as well as hard power … In Pakistan, a country facing huge pressure including from refugees, we must undertake dialogue and support, learning afresh the religious and cultural literacy which is essential to effective work. We must not put any groups there, or in Afghanistan, into a corner where they may be driven to greater extremes.” 


Unnecessary red tape aimed at silencing charities

Proposed legislation increasing regulation of charities is “bad law, an excessive piece of red tape, and a patronising disincentive to public protest by people who care passionately about injustices because they are touched by the lives of those suffering those injustices,” writes Jesuit priest and social justice advocate Frank Brennan. He notes that a bipartisan Senate committee has expressed “significant concerns” about the Bill.


The Church of England's historic parishes deserve better

Smithfield's in London, where the church of St Bartholomew's the Great was built, is used to being at the centre of significant events. So perhaps we should not be surprised that the present vicar of St Bartholomew's has convened a protest movement to complain and protest at how badly the Church of England is being run, writes Dr Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to the Queen.


Earthquake-battered Haitian Episcopalians assess damage as ministry partners prepare to help

Haitian Episcopalians have spent the hours since the 14 August 7.2 magnitude earthquake searching for family and friends while assessing the damage to their churches, schools and communities as their ministry partners across the US Episcopal Church have anxiously awaited their news. The death toll from the earthquake stood at close to 1410 the morning of 17 August, Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said via Twitter. The agency said 6900 people had been injured. Amid the devastation, Tropical Storm Grace has moved off the coast of Haiti but is still drenching the quake-hit area.


600 UK churches sign up to welcome Christian arrivals from Hong Kong

The Church of England must not repeat its lack of welcome to the Windrush generation when thousands of Hong Kong Chinese people move to the UK in what could be the largest planned migration for decades, say clergy of Chinese heritage. Many of those who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean in the 1950s and ’60s were discouraged from attending or even turned away from Anglican churches. Last year, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke of his shame at the C of E’s record of racism.


The ethics of dobbing: When is it alright to snitch?

There haven’t been this many people turning in their friends and neighbours since … well, the Cold War. And it is perhaps because of this history — replete with memories of the Stalinist Soviet Union, McCarthy-era show-trials, and the East German Stasi — that there is a great deal of turmoil over whether we should be calling the police on people who are violating pandemic lockdown restrictions, writes Oxford ethicist Cressida Gaukroger, now senior public policy and social researcher at Whereto Research in Melbourne.